The Lincoln Center Festival, beginning this week in New York City, will mark the world premier of Slow Dancing, a video installation by David Michalek that features some of the world’s greatest dancers. Three screens, each over 40 feet tall, will display a changing ensemble of dancers, each moving at an incredible 3,000 frames per second. At this super slow speed, aspects of the performance are revealed that would never be visible to the naked eye.
Photographer David Michalek, who is married to New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan, developed the concept of filming the dancers in slow motion, because it enabled him to add the element of time, which is so essential to dance, to the visual impact of a still photograph. After experimenting with several high-speed cameras, he finally settled on the Phantom HD.
For the project, David gathered 43 dancers representing diverse styles including ballet, modern dance and tap, as well as traditional dancers from Africa, Bali, China, Turkey, Brazil, India, Taiwan and New Zealand. Each dancer performed for approximately 5 seconds. This live performance was captured in high definition at 1,000 fps and then further slowed to 3,000 fps.
The resulting portraits show all of the minute movements that go into creating the dance as it unfolds in a series of barely perceptible gestures over the course of ten minutes. Some of the dancers described the videos as a kind of “poetry” or “meditation” that captured the essence of their style. The experience of viewing themselves in a totally new way could be both difficult and enlightening as it revealed the artistry and flaws in their technique.
Slow Dancing will be presented at the Lincoln Center Festival from July 12 – 29, where the video portraits will be projected onto the facade of the New York State Theater. The installation was designed to complement architecture of this cultural landmark and is free and open to the public. From 9:00pm to 1:00am, festival-goers and passers-by are invited to share the experience of watching artists from diverse dance traditions and cultural backgrounds performing side by side. In fact, one of Michalek’s goals in creating this work was to bring the performances of master dancers to a wider audience.
For more information on the Lincoln Center Festival and Slow Dancing, including a video interview with David Michalek, visit lincolncenter.org.
Slow Dancing will be at the Music Center of Los Angeles from September 17 – 26, 2007.
For more on the project and performers, visit www.slowdancingfilms.com.