dance theatre of real people
CURATED BY NIE XIAOYI
The photographs of the real were born from Wang Mengfan’s dance theatre for real people, but the group hope the photographs will travel far. The strange thing is, these still and moving images have created an entirely different form of dance video. A form that in shooting, editing, and soundtrack production suits the original atmosphere, perhaps even better than the original recording material. Perhaps this is because the three deliberately do not record entire performances, preferring to use parts to recreate the soul and atmosphere. Wang Mengfan is a dance director and editor. Da Zhuang and He Shaotong are editors, witnesses, accompanying the growth of the play, familiar with the personalities and thoughts of the ordinary people who jump up on stage, and know how the audience interacts with the music, taking a form under the lights. When the curtains are drawn back, the photographers become hunters, sneaking into the performance with their memories and expectations. And in post-production, Mengfan’s selection and rearrangement of the material is nothing less than second creation.
In 1993, U.S. pioneer dancer Merce Cunningham and his photography partner Elliot Caplan produced a video together, Beach Birds for Camera. By activating the machine, the making of this video is actually a dance between the dancers and the video camera. the real’s work takes one step further to escape from the bound of representing the performance and make the video works more independent. Their subtle attention and sophisticated editing shortens and lightens the original recordings. the real’s work reminds us – the often-neglected dance theatre is blessed with more possibilities of image production and worth exploring. What’s more, the real’s work shares a concern with the documentary photography which is towards the everyday life and the expectation of an ideal man. The collective’s initial desire for dance theatre of real people was to get ordinary people on stage, and enable them to become real by dancing. We see in their photography how, in loosening the social discipline instilled in their bodies, people slowly took off the bodily constraints and revealed their own beauty and dignity.