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Ballet Talk for Dancers

ADC August Video - a review


BarreTalk

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This morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to watch the video of the early August Adut Dance Camp session. It was like watching 2 different productions, one good - one not.

 

All week Todd Pankoff poked his camera into various classes and interviewed ADC participants. The result of that shooting is a brilliant rememberance of the week for those who were there and a great synopsis of what an ADC week is like for families and anyone considering attending next summer. Play the tape for someone contemplating joining you next year and they'll sign up instantly.

 

The video has an ebb and flow that totally grabs the essence of Adult Dance Camps. You really feel all the hard work along with the campers' personalities and playfulness. Todd replaced the random noises and music of the classes with a thematic music bed, then edited to it. The result condenses the entire week into a manageable length that is actually more coherent than the reality.

 

In my comment form after this session, I said Todd's constant presence was distracting and that I felt like telling him to "stop pointing that damned thing at me". I'll admit this attitude might be because I earn my living as a TV director/cameraman and ADC is my escape from the video world. Well, I've changed my mind. It is only because of Todd's persistence in getting the variety of shots needed that make this video the strong piece of work that it is. Next summer he can point the damned thing any direction he likes and I won't object.

 

The second half of the production records our Saturday performance at the Grace Street Theatre. It only has to demonstrate basic video competence to be successful, but it fails. Shooting under black-box theatre conditions is not an easy task, but it is not impossible and this video isn't Todd's first time shooting there, so I do not understand why it was shot extremely over-exposed. (I waved my little DV-camera around shooting other dancers, and enrolled volunteers to shoot me onstage, and did not have this problem.)

 

Faces and bare arms are so over-exposed they show no detail at all. You might be able to recognize yourself, but identifying your fellow dancers is difficult. White tights are blown out to clear video (technical term: "clipped"). Black tights and leotards show up as gray. There is an overall sepia cast to the color that is annoying.

 

Sitting in the 6th row, center section might be your favorite spot to see ballet, but it isn't the best place to shoot it from. In order to keep all dancers in the frame, frequently the lens has to be zoomed wide, resulting in a forced perspective that makes dancers in back look really small. Better to move the camera to the back of the house and zoom in.

 

Of course my final complaint is the most serious. I distinctly remember pointing my feet whenever I rehearsed or performed in Richmond, and can't figure out why Todd's camera always shows them unpointed. Surely, he has a filter or lens setting or something responsible for that problem! Well, maybe not, since my artistic director here in Colorado is always telling me to point my feet, too.

 

Overall, I give this video a B. The strong week-long class section rescues the overall production. Even though the performance section is weak, it does document the performance well enough you can evaluate your own dancing. There are sections that are downright comedic. Who fell and took down 3 other people? I hope nobody was hurt, because then it wouldn't be funny. I am amazed at the strong performances some dancers achieved with only 3 days rehearsal, and double over laughing when it looks like the corps is doing 3 different dances simulataneously. That too is the essence of a summer intensive.

 

Hoping to see everyone next year!

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I attended both June and the first August sessions this year. The August video is far BETTER in the performance section than June's. In the June one you can't really tell who is dancing at all. While I enjoyed these videos and dancing in the theater for the performance, the video of the performance in the big studio in June 2002 was much more enjoyable.

 

I am still smiling over your comments about our pointed feet and our impeccable ensemble work! Can't wait until next year!

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"While I enjoyed these videos and dancing in the theater for the performance, the video of the performance in the big studio in June 2002 was much more enjoyable."

The contrast range in a "black box" performance space such as the Grace Street Theatre presents some interesting challenges to successful video taping. The big studio upstairs at Richmond Ballet is much more video-friendly, although not as cool for the dancers as performing on a real stage.

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Scott,

I agree with you about Todd and that **!!* camera. But I do so enjoy seeing everyone on the video (except myself ). I actually thought the Grace theatre section was better this year than last year. But what really struck me were the smiles on all the faces! I've never seen a happier bunch of people anywhere, especially people who were working so hard. You are right that anyone who sees the tape will want to go to camp. And I love having the tape to look back and "visit" with all my friends from camp.

Merde to you,

 

carole

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