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Slow Dancing

by Wendy Dembo in Culture on 16 July 2007

slowdancing.jpg

Last Thursday David Michalek's " Slow Dancing," an outdoor installation of 40-foot video screens featuring 43 dancers, premiered at the Lincoln Center in New York. Running nightly from 9pm-1am until 29 July 2007, projected images of dancers— including Karole Armitage, Trisha Brown, William Forsythe, Eiko, Judith Jamison, Bill T. Jones, Allegra Kent, Bill Shannon, Elizabeth Streb and many others—appear on three 40-foot scrims stretched across the facade of the New York State Theater.

From ballet to break dancing to Balinese dance, as well as ballet and modern dance, a really interesting mixture of genres come together in the piece. Michalek brings them to life using a camera that shoots 1000 frames per second. He asked all the dancers to prepare three five-second phrases to try in front of camera and said that everyone came well-prepared. When played back in real time, the five-second movements equal about eight minutes, allowing the viewer to see every minute detail and move. Like Marey and Muybridge, Michalek belongs on the list of photographers studying the human form in movement. (See more info on his technical process here.)

What I found to be amazing was the control and balance of the dancers. I was watching the clip of Wendy Whelan, a prima ballerina at the New York City Ballet and married to Michalek. In the slow motion you could plainly see how her legs were moving, but the rest of her body was completely still. Her arms stayed at the exact same level for her entire leap. It was magical. I asked Whelan what she liked about the project and she said, that she “loved watching the seed of a dream turn into reality after three years. It is an extraordinary gift to the people.”

Photo courtesy of Jason Wishnow

Slow Dancing
12 July-29 July 2007
Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023 map
tel. +1 212 875 5000

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