First Encounters

The next project I am embarking on as part of my MA at the University of Chester is a screendance project entitled ‘First Encounters’.

I was very keen to explore the medium of screen dance, what it can do to the artform and how dance can be seen or created using film. Screen dance could be a fantastic way of making dance accessible to those that wouldn’t normal watch dance. A way to explore and share ideas. Furthermore, I have an idea for a project I want to do after I have completed my Masters so I thought this would be a great opportunity to experiment.

The idea for this screen dance is about looking at the first date or first encounter with someone that may or maynot develop into a romantic relationship. The concept came from an interest in the dating culture in the 21st century with the use of dating apps and social media. Through personal experience and talking with a lot of fellow millennials there is a big question around how we meet someone, both in terms of how both parties become to be in contact but also in that first moment, how the interaction plays out. This is especially topical in the current climate with the movement of the #metoo campaign and what is know as weinstein culture, the fall out from the reports around Harvey Weinstein and the sexual assault allegations against him.

Initially the idea was to have a film looking at a number of different dating situations with two stories running through them. One of the stories being that the two parties meet, everything goes great and they stay together, the other looking at a situation which doesn’t end well with one person having assaulted the other or abused their power in the situation having not read and understood signals. However through the initial research it became clear that there were many different situations and the concept of having the narrative of the storylines wasn’t quite fitting. This also became more obvious as I was thinking more about the concept and essence of what the project was. Now the idea is that the screendance will consist of around 10 – 12 different scenes in which the viewer will see a short section of a date or first encounter. Each scene will be from a different date, looking at a different aspect or idea surrounding dating and communication, gaining an insight rather than a full story.

The essence of what is going to be presented and what I am interested in is communication. How do people communicate in these situations? Is the communication clear and understood by both parties or has something been missed?

The first part of the research process of this project was to gather stories. Real stories about real experiences. As I have previously said, I want to be able to hold space for peoples stories and experiences and not just rely on my own. This was conducted via a google form which was sent out over social media to invite people to share their dating stories. There were around 40 people who shared stories and which I have been able to take different aspects from, whether that be the form of communication, the location of the date or the general concept or essence of the story. This has given a lot of material to work with and get the project of the ground.

Further research will include looking at dance for camera, both in the methodologies and in practitioners. Sociology and culture will be another are of research, as will research of practitioners also working in these area.

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