Danses Macabres Collective Screendance:
The Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne proposed its first collective screendance project in 2013 in honor of the centenary of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). Known as an omnibus film, this project asked artists to unite under one common theme within the space of the same film. To our knowledge, this was the first ever omnibus work of screendance and is the subject of an article in The International Journal of Screendance. For an ombnibus screendance, each artist receives a few minutes of music with which to create a screendance segment. The various segments are then edited together by Franck Boulègue & Marisa C. Hayes to create one long collective work. In 2016, the festival asked artists to work with the theme of Les Danses Macabres, described below. Artists were free to use any style of dance and filmmaking to explore the theme, the only regulations were the music and to work in black and white for this project. The segments created are diverse and engage many methods of screendance creation: found footage, site-specific dance, motion capture dance animation, and more. According to film scholar David Scott Diffrient, omnibus films are like a buffet that invite us to “taste the world”. For the Danses Macabres project, artists with which the festival had previously worked were commissioned to contribute and represent five different continents.
Les Danses Macabres are a cultural phenomenon that first appeared as a medieval allegory in the 15th century via paintings and engravings, and have marked the development of numerous art forms ever since. Intended as a universal reminder that death is an inescapable fact (uniting us all regardless of wealth or rank), images of Danses Macabres usually depict moving skeletons, but have paved the way for other styles such as vanitas and other mortal reminders in art. Although the Danses Macabres are a European development, all cultures feature artistic practices and events, both past and present that address our shared mortality. From Mexico’s Dia de los muertos (day of the dead) celebrations to Japan’s post-war Butoh, the concept of death seems to haunt the human race at every turn. Whether mocked joyfully in Disney’s Skeleton Dance (1928) or staged solemnly (Roland Petit’s ballet Le Jeune Homme et la Mort [The Young Man and Death], 1946), artists across diverse media and eras have attempted to articulate their relationship to loss and dying. While death is usually associated with being inanimate, its representation in art is often quite the opposite: dancing bodies in motion, living life to the fullest. Film scholar André Habib ponders: ‘Does not every image of death, precisely because it is an image, seek to deny death by inscribing it within an imperishable time, away from the corruption of living organisms?
The films featured in this collective project both draw on and depart from traditional depictions of Danses Macabres. They approach death from a variety of angles, including: explorations of time, transitions and ontology, among others.
Ganga Bouetoumoussa, Boris
Fattoumi, Héla et Lamoureux, Éric