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date: 08 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

On screen, inanimate objects can be made to “dance” as surely as human dancers can be reduced to the status of objects. This is one way screendance redefines dance and establishes its uniqueness as a genre, differentiating itself from every conceivable form of live, theatrical dancing. For example, in David Hinton and Yolanda Snaith’s Birds, the only “dancers” are finches, owls and bluebirds; creative editing of “found” documentary footage imbues the birds’ movements with “dance-like” qualities. But in so doing, it inadvertently blurs essential distinctions between dance-for-screen and countless other screen-based “dance-like” experience, for example, the harrowing bullet-riddled final moments of Bonnie and Clyde in Arthur Penn’s film, often described as a “dance of death.” But no one proposes that films like Bonnie and Clyde are screendance works. This essay examines the contradictions that arise when we define screendance in ways that de-emphasize the prominence of human dancers.

Keywords: screendance, Bonnie and Clyde, Birds, David Hinton, Yolanda Snaith, Arthur Penn, documentary, definition

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