~ Dance ~

I Am Here by Porsche Veu

Porsche Veu writes, directs and performs in I Am Here, an inspiring dance and music video on personal empowerment.

Porsche Veu aka The Poetic Activist is an unapologetic author, spoken word poet, speaker, educator, and artist of many talents from Oakland. (source)

Porsche uses her art to fight social injustice, empower women, youth, & the Black community, and advocate for mental & emotional health. (source)

The film was winner of the multimedia category in the Button Poetry Video Contest in 2022. The poem can be read on the page here.

춤의 독방 / Chumui dokbang (Solitary Dance Cell) by Lee Hyemi

An adaptation of a poem from Lee Hyemi‘s first collection Ultraviolet by filmmaker Hongrae Lee Kim.

Dave: Lovely dark, claustrophobic ambience. The poet’s voice in the soundtrack is joined by another for a stunning effect, a dialogue that sounds like a monologue.

Marie: I found a second viewing rewarding. That odd and wordless interlude around 01:54 is intriguing, suspending time. I especially like the voices and the placement of them in the aural field, their resonances sometimes bouncing side to side almost in unison. This binaural effect gives emphasis to the text in a way that feels more physical than cognitive, as the sound resonances ping across the brain.

Here are the complete credits from Vimeo:

Performed by HeeJun Lee
Narrated by Hyemi Lee / Luna Bae
Video Catchers : Filmical / PJ soon
Translated by
Helen Hwayeon, Julia Clark and Son HyeJeong,
Sal Kang, Youngseo Lee, Ainee Jeong,
Hoyoung, Shreya Mapadath, Jaewon Che,
Dabin Jeong, Deborah Kim, Victoria Caudle, Anna Toombs
Director of Choreography : HeeJun Lee

A film by Hongrae Lee Kim

That’s quite a translation committee! But the Vimeo description ends with this note: “It’s a small gift for Chogwa.” And chogwa is “a quarterly e-zine featuring one Korean poem & multiple English translations.” Here’s issue 7, 12 translations of “Chumui dokbang” by Lee Hyemi. (Note the discussion about how to translate the title. Other possibilities include “Dancing in an Empty Room” and “Dance of Confinement.”)

The overall editor of chogwa, by the way, Soje, translated Lee Hyemi’s second collection, Unexpected Vanilla, which was shortlisted for the 2021 National Translation Prize in Poetry. Here’s a review and here’s a selection. Both Soje and Lee seem like poets to watch.

Θυμήσου, Σώμα… (Remember, Body…) by C. P. Cavafy

Body, remember not only how much you were loved
not only the beds you lay on.
but also those desires glowing openly
in eyes that looked at you,
trembling for you in voices—
only some chance obstacle frustrated them.
Now that it’s all finally in the past,
it seems almost as if you gave yourself
to those desires too—how they glowed,
remember, in eyes that looked at you,
remember, body, how they trembled for you in those voices.
translation by George Barbanis

Dancer/choreographer Konstantina Ntinapogia directs this collaborative “embodiment” of a poem by the great 20th-century Greek poet Cavafy. Since the English translation is not included in subtitles, only in the Vimeo description, viewers without Greek may, if they choose, rely on the choreography alone for meaning. And we’ve always been interested in dance as a medium for poetry here. Like poetry film itself, dance can be seen as a form of translation. Similarly, this could be seen as a music video, since the commission included an original composition based on the poem by artist(s) of the director’s choice. The band Ntinapogia chose to work with is called Lost Bodies. She notes:

As part of the 30 Days of Poetry project coordinated by choreographer Olga Spyraki, I was invited to dance and choreograph in collaboration with a musician of my choice. Our instructions were for the music to be original and made on a poem that we would bring together with the composer. This particular poem is by the famous Greek poet Konstantine P. Cavafy entitled “Thimisou, Soma…” that means “Remember, Body…” and my screen-dance is 1:37 minutes [long]. […]

How could this poem be embodied? How does body memory wake up? What is the color of passion? were some of my most basic questions. In this particular video-dance I worked not only as a dancer and choreographer but also as a director / cinematographer since I also dealt with the perspectives of the space, the use of the camera and I also did the editing. I am incredibly pleased with the process of research and composition.

Music: Lost Bodies
Song: “Thimisou, Soma…”
Dancer/Performer: Konstantina Ntinapogia
Camera: Marilena Dionysopoulou
Montaj: Konstantina Ntinapogia, Ioannis Makropoulos

Catarsis / Catharsis by Lilián Pallares

A 2019 video from the ongoing creative partnership of Colombian poet Lilián Pallares and New Zealand filmmaker and poet Charles Olsen, who wrote:

This was made originally as a book trailer, to capture the essence of Lilián’s latest collection Bestial published in Zaragoza, Spain, by Papeles de Trasmoz, Olifante Editions, 2019. Her collection explores her Afro-Colombian roots and the death of her father. While writing the poems she was taking African dance classes in Madrid and we wanted to capture something of the African influence in this poetry film.

We live in a neighborhood of Madrid with a large migrant population, with people from Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, Morocco, Bangladesh, China, etc., and us (Colombia and New Zealand), and we decided to film this at night in streets with the dancer Marisa Cámara (Guinea-Conakry) and the poet and performer Artemisa Semedo (Galicia/Cape Verde). The music is ‘Zuru’ by the Colombian duo Mitú.

I include Catarsis in my Poesía sin fronteras program exploring translation, otherness, identity and death in cinepoetry from across the Americas, which by the way is available for public screening anywhere in the world — whenever such a thing becomes possible again. In the meantime, you can watch all the films here.

Pregnant with the Dead by Susan Rich

Director Tova Beck-Friedman calls this “A cine-poem about the space between suffering and life lived. It’s also about survival and the unforgotten pain.” Dancer Juliet Neidish’s interpretation of the poem, choreographed by Beck-Friedman, is juxtaposed with archival footage for maximum emotional effect.

Susan Rich is the poet, and I was stunned to read an open letter on her blog detailing how the film was commissioned by the Visible Poetry Project and then censored at the very last moment, apparently for being insufficiently pious about the Holocaust! An astonishing and outrageous decision. All the more reason to share it here, then, of course (though I’d intended to anyway, before I’d read Rich’s post). I’ve been happy to see it getting well-deserved attention on social media, as well. As Rich notes in her open letter,

If there were ever a time to support each other, that time is now. The best art pushes and challenges us to the point of discomfort.

T.I.A. (THIS is Africa) by Ronan Cheneau

Seattle’s Cadence Video Poetry Festival has kicked off for 2020. The event has been rapidly moved online this year, evolving with world circumstances. Each of the programs are being made available for viewing at any time during a series of 24-hour slots, from 15-19 April 2020. So far I have seen just the first program, Sight Lines, and was rewarded with some outstanding films.

To give readers a sense of the high quality of the programming, I am sharing T.I.A. (THIS is Africa). It is a collaboration between director Matthieu Maunier-Rossi and poet Ronan Cheneau. Congolese dancer and choreographer, Aïpeur Foundou, is a compelling, dancing presence throughout this moving film.

Tickets to the remaining four sessions of the festival are on a ‘pay as you can’ basis (from $0 upwards). See the Cadence website for more information.

Announcements of winners of the different competition categories are spread out over the five days, one or two revealed in the video intros at the start of each day’s program.

Blood Constellations by Malika Ndlovu

Blood Constellations is a beautifully made example of a poetry dance film, a genre showcased many times over the years at Moving Poems.

Boldly directed by Jim Demuth, based in London and China, the film is part of a broader, multi-disciplinary arts collaboration called Singing My Mother’s Song, which explores family and lineage. The overall director of the project is Bristol-based Rebecca Tantony.

The poet is Durban-born Malika Ndlovu, whose rich and passionate voice rings out in word and song on the soundtrack. It is compellingly danced by Nyaniso Dzedze, also in South Africa.

I was lucky enough to see the film in Athens earlier in December, where it screened at the International Video Poetry Festival.

Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods by Tishani Doshi

Indian poet and fiction writer Tishani Doshi dances the title poem from her third collection in this film by Gareth M Davies. The music was composed by Luca Nardon.

I’ve featured a lot of unique dance poetry videos here over the years, but this is certainly one of the most powerful — perhaps because the poet herself is the dancer and choreographer. This doesn’t feel like an interpretation of the poem so much as the poem itself in a different form.

Never Say Never Say Never by Patrick James Errington

From British director Adele Myers, a film based on a poem by Patrick James Errington. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Savouring their last moments, a couple struggle with letting go. They must, but breaking up is hard to do.

This short film is based on an original poem written by Patrick Errington. The poem was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2016, Poetry Society (UK). This film was commissioned by FilmPoem and original adaptation was produced entirely in Fujairah UAE.

The actors are Layla Al Khouri and Sanoop Din. For a full list of credits, see Poetry Film Live.

Elephant by Elisabet Velasquez

Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican poet Elisabet Velasquez took the top prize in Button Poetry’s 2017 Video Contest with Elephant, which she calls

a short choreo-film entirely produced by women of color against street harassment. The video is the collective effort of a group of interdisciplinary artists from New York City who came together to highlight the importance of looking at street harassment from a lens of reclamation of power.

We believe that all people who identify as women as well as gender nonconforming individuals who are impacted by street harassment have a right to their bodies and in this video we take our bodies back.

If you or any one you know has been impacted by street harassment in any way we invite you to share.

Peruvian filmmaker Connie Chavez directed the film and Keomi Tarver is the dancer and choreographer, with body art by Alicia C. Cobb.

Goraikou by Eleni Cay

Slovakian poet Eleni Cay‘s latest dancepoem video features dancer Roberta Stepankova. The text appears in her third and latest pamphlet (chapbook), A Small Love Dictionary Of Untranslatable Japanese Words.

shhh! by Leah Thorn

A dance-infused poetry film by Leah Thorn and filmmaker Clare Unsworth about the systematic silencing of women — and the need to rebel against it. Leah told me in an email,

The poem was written out of a passion to challenge the invisibility of the many ways women are silenced and I tried it out in performance with many different audiences of women – in schools, universities, feminist groups, at poetry events and in prison. Clare and I then collaborated with three drama students at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England who interpreted the poem through movement.

This locally-produced, no-budget film has been screened internationally at feminist film festivals.

The dancer/choreographers are Kristin Bacheva, Vanessa Owusu and Elle Payne. The sound is by Daniel Battersby, with music by Jahzzar and Ars Sonor.