Learning Your Instruments

Like in all art forms, it is essential that one place a degree of attention to developing technical mastery. In dance, a strong technical foundation can only benefit choreographic and performance endeavors. Dancers tend to posses a keen awareness of the body’s potential due to the innumerable hours spent in technique classes. Moving into the realm of dance video requires a similar exploration of technical skills. If the body is the instrument of the dancer, then cameras and editing software may be considered the instruments of choreographing video.
  • Cameras
Video cameras, regardless of quality, cost, or format allow for extending the dancer’s imagination and performative expression as an expert in the dynamic delivery of movement vocabulary. Buttons, switches, dials, and in/out ports can appear daunting at first, but so were your first pliés! Taking the time to understand the features of your video camera empowers artistic capability, while also ensuring quality footage. Regardless of the bells and whistles associated with your camera, remember that you are the artist and that creating art is a choice-making process. Cameras working in Full Auto Mode are doing all the thinking for you. To ensure that you are in control of your destiny, develop your ability to command the camera while in Manual Mode. Developing an understanding and control of three main technical features can drastically improve video quality.

1. Focus – creating the sharpest image of the subject
2. White Balance – matching camera settings to the color temperature of the light source
3. Exposure – controlling the amount of light entering the lens of the camera

Visit the
Technical Issues section of DanceDocumentation.com for more information on mastering these key components of high quality video.

  • Editing Software
Like the video camera, editing software is another essential instrument for extending the dancer’s choreographic sensibilities beyond the proscenium stage and into the screen as a dimensional, time-based canvas. Although carefully planned in-camera editing can result in some pretty amazing work, nothing compares to sense of satisfaction that one experiences when creative inspiration can be effortlessly realized through editing. As one nears the status of virtuosic editor it becomes possible to simulate the rare “in-the-moment” sensation of riding an intuitive flow that we all dream of while choreographing in a studio with live dancers. In a similar manner, the computer really can become an integrated studio for making dance! This art of post-production editing, like the analytic study of choreographic devices, requires discipline. Once the rules are learned, it’s so much fun to break them! Regardless of computer platform or software brand, becoming familiar with a video-editing program is certainly worth the investment of time.