OVAL - Ah!

Isabelle Rune performing OVAL - Ah! • Photo by Sebastien Gonon

Choreography on film and video is not a new idea, but it still seems in many ways to be in its very early stages, not so much as an art form, but as an idea in the Dance community. Here's a video from Amberley Productions, a film and video company in Berlin, that is visionary in its sense of how to visually record choreography.

Comparing the often divergent, often converging worlds of music and dance is irresistible whenever this subject comes up. Way, way back, music was always performed, and never recorded, and it took decades, maybe six of them, before a gradual creative understanding emerged that the record does not have to be the same as the live performance. The record includes the performance, but it will always be more than, and less than, a live performance of the same song. You lose the intensity of immediate personal communication, but you have access to immense areas of more complex, more colorful communication; there are realms of technology-induced imagination that become available to the expression of the creative ideas in the composition.

Many choreographers seem to have some difficulty embracing all of this, and to see Walter Bickman's choreography for "OVAL - Ah!" set confidently outside of the boundaries of theatrical presentation is an inspiring vision of choreography in multiple dimensions. Directed by Darko Dragicevic, the piece implies a rich mutual understanding among several artistic visions -- director, choreographer, composer, and performers. It's set to an original score by Markus Popp, a respected electronic artist from Berlin (on Thrill Jockey), and features Isabelle Rune in a carefully constructed collage of images that an audience can never really see on a stage. Here the details of movement become apparent, and while woven into the larger fabric of Bickman's design, they have an inevitable immediacy. "OVAL - Ah!" is a look at what choreography can become in the multiple dimensions of a broader creative world --- the world of recording and production.

Give the video a chance to buffer, so you can watch it full screen -- it's worth it, because then you can watch it again.

The original Markus Popp tracks are available at Amazon, iTunes and at Thrill Jockey. The full album, entitled "O", is a seventy-six track grand tour ("Ah!" is the second track) from the group Oval, originally a trio, and now the project of Popp, one of its original members. We'll see if we can catch up with Markus to tell you more about it sometime soon.

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