'Break' is a multi camera dance film commissioned by Channel 4 and ACE(selection panel film maker Margaret Williams, Channel 4 Arts Commissioning editor Jan Younghusband, dance producer Caroline Freeman and Arts Council Officer Jen McLauchlan). Break was commissioned in a competitive selection process for Channel 4’s dance programme. The project arose from a period of research supported by an ACESE development award.
Over the last fifteen years I have been concerned with mediated choreography, ie. choreography that has been refracted through another ‘device’, which acts as an intermediary, defining and distilling the movements’ meanings. In my chapters in the book Anarchic Dance, I discuss how visual metaphor, texts and political concepts can function in this way. More recently in my work, the act of filming has become a dominant mediation device through the use of framing and the directed gaze. I explored this concept in my paper 'Framing the Body', presented at the Body Parts Festival (National Gallery of Scotland Feb 2005) and Screen Dance, State of the Art Conference (part of the ADF Festival in North Carolina 2006).
The paper examines the way that fixed camera positions enable the precise spatial location of the dancer’s body in a way that is the same for each viewer. This exact location of body parts enables a choreography that can be read in a new and unique way. The interdependence of the mediating device and the choreography can be seen very clearly in Break where the solo performer is surrounded by nine fixed high definition cameras. By editing between the camera viewpoints the audience has a 360 degree view of the choreography which is itself informed by the stasis imposed on the performer by the filming setup.
The film is the latest in a line of innovative and award winning films (Beethoven, Motion Control, Anarchic Variations) that have seen Cowie emerging as a leader in this field presenting master classes at West Midlands Screen Dance Retreat 24-25 September 2004, Artist in Residence for New Territories Glasgow 2004, University of Smolny, St Petersburg 2006, etc. Cowie was also invited to take part in the selection panel for SED’s latest round of dance film commissions.