Tuesday, October 11, 2011

shadow dancing

I have to give Stephen total credit for one of my favorite aspects of our little performance with the Richard Foreman Mini Festival. Since the main song we were singing was Shadow Waltz, he had the idea of having shadows waltz behind us during the song. The Performance Works Northwest folks told us they could project still images or film sequences on the stage wall, so we set about figuring how to create a little shadow film. Keeping in mind that we had only ten days (and very few nights together) between getting the prompt and performing the complete piece, it was squeeze to fit this in with writing the piece, putting together the background music, practicing and practicing. Oh, and going to work. Oh, and a computer crash in the middle of it all.

Monday night: Stephen and me in the back room of the apartment with the couch up on its end and leaned against the closet door, an art lamp affixed to a tripod shoved in the corner and Stephen's iPhone (camera) propped against the computer. In the wide spot of light beaming against the wall, Stephen and I waltzed in a circle. Trying to stay inside the tiny square marked out with tape on the floor. I banged into the corner of the desk. The blurry shadow figures on the wall were elongated and every time we turned, my butt looked like an attached beach ball.

We tried all night, moved furniture around, pointed the lamp from every angle, but the room was just too small. No way to get the shadows sharp in the frame and keep our real bodies out. I kept saying what we needed to do was go find a blank wall somewhere and project the car's headlights on it, and dance in front of that. Then Stephen came up with the idea of the shadow puppets.

He spent part of Tuesday and Wednesday drawing and cutting out of stiff art board three sets of dancing couples--modeled after Astaire and Rogers from pictures in a book.

Lovely, detailed silhouettes with delicate profiles and fingered hands. On Thursday, I stayed home from Dangerous Writing, and we set up the lamp and camera again. By then, Stephen had attached some chopsticks to the bases of the paper puppets and glued it all down. He'd also added a final touch to his dancing couples, using some parchment paper, with hopes that the light through the parchment would give a gauzy effect to part of the costuming. When Stephen does something, he does it to detailed perfection.

This was my job.

Then, when the sun went down, we started filming, shining the light across our stick puppets and against a thin piece of Bristol set up on Stephen's artist's easel.

He filmed from the opposite side, which gave us the sharpest possible shadow dancers. Sadly the parchment paper didn't give us the effect we wanted, so we had to take a little time to remove those pieces, but then we got back to choreographing the dancers.

I knelt down in front of the easel screen and twirled my silhouette duo, and Nicholas came over and curled up on the backs of my calves.

All night, Stephen and I played the music of Shadow Waltz and were two-dimensional dancers in a circle of light.

1 comment:

  1. You two blow me away with your joy and creativity!!!