Sunday, 9 December 2012

Semester 1 Summary: Acting and Movement

I began my acting research by watching films with characters that inspired Nina's persona. (There's plenty of this in illegible notes, in my sketchbook, so i'm not going to bother typing everything up...) Here's the run down:

  • Moulin Rouge:

Satine- Nicole Kidman
*spoilers* Satine finds out she's dying and then proceeds to... die.
 But i found it interesting to observe her movement fluctuating between defiance and exhaustion  very dramatically and theatrically, much in the way i am hoping to achieve for Nina.

 I developed the amount of facial expression i hope to achieve for Nina by remembering that Satine smiles at her lover before she dies, so now, Nina shows much more recognition than first anticipated.

Also, Tango de la Roxanne is pretty darn close to the kind of movement want to emphasise in Dancing Nina, and was actually a very early influence for me and Jo.

upon reviewing it i made changes to the choreography: such as having Death grab Nina by the wrists more to indicate his personality flip-side.

Personality flip side?? I hear you cry!
I'll get to it, hang tight. (see what i did there?...)

  • I also watched Chicago to look at the dances of innocent Hungarian lady what gets hung *spoilers*. I've always loved the choreography of her Cell Block Tango routine, there's so much good staging, silhouetting and mirroring in it between her and her partner, 

and although it remains a tango, it has a classic twist. The way the woman acts is so theatrical, in keeping with the film's creative thrust. Especially when she is executed and her dying scene is transformed into a glamorous disappearing act: 

  • "Pina" was also very influential to us from an early stage, and i recently  re watched it when thinking more in depth about my characters. There are a couple of pieces that stand out to me, particularly this one: 

The way the woman moves around as if she is in a dream and relies on her partner to catch her constantly but without ever acknowledging him is something similar to the way i want to characters to interact in Dancing Nina. Except a little reversed...

  • I've been reading up on Acting

"Acting for Animators" Ed Hooks

I read about objectives and conclusions and thinking as well as doing in acting. Which was helpful at this stage of refreshing my understanding of the characters i already knew so well.
"Unity of action"= "doing something 100% of the time" -Aristotle
^This helped me work out some creases in the choreography. Re-establishing what exactly my characters wanted and why made me add certain bits that hadn't existed previously, such as when Nina reaches up to touch Death's face as if trying to establish a connection only to be harshly rejected.

In Dancing Nina I'm aiming for Death to be the dream state character. He is entirely Nina's subconscious creation, and so, as well as being a vague memory of her lover he is an embodiment of her pain as her body dies.He constantly fluctuates between sympathy and cruelty for the duration of the (metaphorical) dance eventually truly embodying the lover Nina longs to be with in the final scene.

As for Nina, there's a small essay explaining her motivation in my jotter/sketchbook and it's 5am so, shhh.

  • I took Dancing lessons! 
I don't know if i've mentioned this before, but i used to dance regularly. It occurred to me that since i was a ballet dancer and never really performed, i had never danced with a partner, so i took up Swing dance at the Swing Dance society at Dundee to gain a better understanding of how people are meant to move as a pair. It turned out to be very helpful with hand gesture in particular; i found i could suddenly refer to my own learning  when it came to what position hands should be in.

  • It was suggested that i should hire drama students to act out my piece with a good understanding of the characters, which, strangely enough had not occurred to me since i have so much dance research and reference to work from. Anyway, i skipped the middle man and acted out the beginning (the part i am currently animating) myself. My partner was Joe who has acted before, and was ... available. I took time to explain Death's character to him before filming.

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