Cowie, Billy (2005) Break ACE, Channel 4 Dance Programme, UK.
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'Break' is a multi-camera dance film; the project evolved from a period of research supported by an ACE South East development award (£20k) and was commissioned through competitive selection for an ACE/Channel 4’s dance programme (£12k). Recently, the act of filming in Cowie’s work has become a dominant mediation device through its use of framing and the directed gaze. This concept was explored in his paper, 'Framing the Body', and was presented at the Body Parts Festival at the National Gallery of Scotland (February, 2005) and Screen Dance, State of the Art Conference, part of the American Dance Festival (ADF), North Carolina (2006) - transcript at http://www.videodance.org.uk/pages/proceedings.doc. Cowie’s research elucidates the ways that fixed camera positions enable the precise spatial location of the dancer’s body to be seen in a way that is the same for each viewer. This exact location of body parts enables a choreography that can be read in a new and unique way. Such interdependence of the mediating device and the choreography can be seen very clearly in 'Break', where the solo performer is surrounded by nine fixed high-definition cameras. Through a process of editing between the camera viewpoints, the audience has a 360-degree view of the choreography, itself informed by the stasis imposed on the performer by the filming set-up. The film is the latest in a line of innovative and award-winning films ('Beethoven', 'Motion Control', 'Anarchic Variations') that have seen Cowie emerging as a leader in this field, presenting masterclasses at West Midlands Screen Dance Retreat (24-25/9/04), becoming artist in residence for New Territories Glasgow 2004 and the University of Smolny, St Petersburg (2006). Cowie was also invited to take part in the selection panel for the latest round of dance film commissions for South East Dance.
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