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Dance Video Wins Film Editing Award


Dance Video Wins Film Editing Award

Video dance is a new and rare art form in New Zealand - but one talented and well-known New Zealander is leading the way.

Renowned dancer, choreographer and co-ordinator of the dance programme at The University of Auckland's School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), Mary-Jane O'Reilly was recently awarded the prize for best editing at the River City Short Film Festival in Wanganui.

Her six-minute dance film, 'Canopy' was taken from the work 'Poi' shown in the Limbs retrospective concert held at the Maidment Theatre last year. The editing prize includes $1,500 worth of editing time at Oktober, an editing suite based in Auckland.

"I'm absolutely thrilled about this award, because I wasn't even sure whether my dance video would be considered as a short film," Mary-Jane says.

Dance video can either be a work for camera or can involve taking a dance from the stage and through editing, re choreographing, adding other imagery and sound it can become an artistic and viewer friendly videodance. When editing for the screen the dance sequences can often be cut in the middle of movement phrases, or in mid-action, while still keeping a perceived choreographic logic.

The video was edited with playwright Murray Ball, using advanced Avid computer technology. This technology was also used for editing parts of Lord of the Rings, Mary-Jane says.

"This has been a great experience, combining my dance knowledge with this wonderful advanced technology," she says.

And with video dance, Mary-Jane says there are no rules. "One of the most interesting things in fact is that video dance can be anything you want it to be," she says. "You can take an everyday movement and add music and make it become dance by the way it is edited."

Although dance video does respond well to having more literal images included. "For example, in 'Canopy' I've included dance images from the stage dance, but I've also added some iconic New Zealand images, such as the native bush to enhance the interpretation."

Mary-Jane says one of the great things about video dance is its ability to increase the audience. "Video dance can be shown anywhere, no need for a stage and also increases the opportunity for international dialogue," she says.

"You can take a video overseas for example, and showcase New Zealand dance, without having to take along a whole company of dancers with you."

Mary-Jane says she has attended a few videodance workshops offshore but is basically self-taught in the new art of video dance.

Originally driven by the motivation to interpret her own choreography instead of a director re-interpreting her work, she has now reached a point where she is able to direct and edit her own work.

With 'Canopy' she directed most of the footage and then spent over 35 hours working on the editing.

Mary Jane plans to include a specific videodance aspect to her next series of classes to be offered as part of the Summer Youth Programmes at SCAPA from the 13th to the 24th of January 2003.


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