Whispers down the lane is part of Dance.Focus, a film commission project from DanceHub SA in partnership with Ausdance ACT and supported by Ausdance SA and Torbreck Vintners. The project has an aim of challenging, resonating and engaging with screen dance. Not a bad idea given that dance on screen has been so prominent in our minds, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, for well over a year now.
Four choreographers were commissioned to create for the project, two from South Australia and two from the ACT. A finished product from the two ACT choreographers has been delayed as a result of the lockdown situation in Canberra, but the South Australian films, Whispers down the lane from Chloe Moir and (T)here from Cinzia Schincariol are available to watch on the Ausdance ACT website at this link.
While I enjoyed in particular the beautiful landscapes in which (T)here was filmed, it was Whispers down the lane that was, to my mind, the outstanding contribution from a dance point of view. Made on six dancers, it took as a starting point the childhood game of passing on a whisper with the aim of the message remaining unchanged as it passed from one person to the next.
The message or ‘whisper’ in this case is a dance solo lasting about 90 seconds performed by Moir, a dance graduate from the University of South Australia. Although quite short at 90 seconds, Moir’s whisper is relatively complex. It has, for example, changing levels, including some fast turning movements on the floor, and some detailed finger work.
After Moir has delivered her whisper, each dancer enters the performing space (one by one) and re-enacts that whisper. Towards the end we see a film compilation of the six versions of the whisper, and that compilation also includes Moir dancing the original solo. At various stages, each of the six dancers comments on the project, at first how they think it will evolve, and later how they managed the situation.
What was the conclusion? Written on the screen towards the end were the words:
Each repetition inspired new thought, feeling and understanding of the phrase … teaching us that our perspectives and experiences make us different from one another, leaving us to tell a different story.
But it was more than that. What attracted me was the insight it gave to that essential feature of dance—it is made on the human body. While individuality is there always, as the closing words say, does that also mean we can never really replicate what a choreographer sets, especially when restaging a work, and especially if the work is from the past? Whispers down the lane is a beautiful and inspiring film (production Lewis Grant Kennedy) with so many layers to it. An excellent outcome from Dance.Focus.
All photos: Screenshots from the film Whispers Down The Lane by Chloe Moir, a DANCE.FOCUS 2021 commission. Courtesy of Ausdance ACT
Michelle Potter, 5 October 2021
Featured image: Chloe Moir and film title.