This years summer courses will culminate in a film project inspired by Busby Berkeley. This is our second year of running a programme of adult dance classes for those of us who are still around in August! Having done a number of big film projects, this summer we thought we would change things by using a new filming technique. To hear the grand plan, watch my VLOG below!
My background is in documentaries and in many ways I haven’t moved with the times since leaving production. But my awareness of drone cameras and gimbals as affordable technology gave me a new idea - the big aerial shot! Kaleidescope images and chorus dancers instantly filled my imagination, they were of course, inspired by Busby Berkeley.
If you don’t know his work then prepare yourself for the surreal, giant golden bananas, cameras tracking through an alley of legs and geometric patterns created by an army of dancers, to incredible effect.
It comes as no surprise to discover Berkeley was in the Army; In charge of 1,200 men, split into six ‘batteries’. He arranged to give each of the six batteries a unique plan to create interesting patterns of marches. He was also an aerial observer, giving him experience in viewing formations from above.
This view point was later realised in his film work. His iconic aerial shots created patterns, which seamlessly changed shape although the dancers who created them got little credit. In Berkeley’s numbers it was the camera that was the star and it’s been said that he treated the crew with a greater respect than the dancers.
Berkeley was as much a filmmaker as a choreographer but to me he is a master of movement composition. He created techniques that combined moving sets, with moving dancers, with moving cameras to create an effect that tricks the eye. The fantastical illusions he created have been copied through the decades and each reinvention feels fresh.
I am someone who has to work hard to scale down my vision. Like Berkeley I tend to think big and more than once Elena has had to bring me back down to earth. Since conceiving the idea we’ve found out the laws around using drones have recently been made much more restrictive. But we are so inspired by Berkeley’s work, we’re not going to retreat now.
So how are we going to do this? Well I hate to get technical but we do have a gimbal and a ninja rod! All we need now is an army of dancers … or the very least a ‘battery’.
The course dates are 6-27th August from 6-7pm at Open Space Studios in Hove. The filming date is provisionally set for evening of 30th August in central Brighton. We really hope you can join us for this project and you can sign up below!