~ Nadia Vadori-Gauthier ~

Top Ten: Poetry, Dance and Song

Dancing, music and singing have been key aspects of my life over the decades since my childhood, and I am naturally drawn to them as ways of exploring and expressing poetry in film.

This collection of ten is made up of pieces that move me in different ways. The order I have given them is not a ranking, but simply designed to be seen and heard in a flow from start to end.


Film-maker: Tim Davis
Writer & Voice: Olivia Gatwood
Choreography & Performance: Rebecca Björling & Rebecca Rosier

A marvelous response in dance to a powerful poem, Ode To My Bitchface was written by Olivia Gatwood in the US, who also voices the piece. The rhythm of the film, directed by Tim Davis, follows closely the choreography and dancing by Swedish artists Rebecca Björling and Rebecca Rosier. The dance is timed to the rhythms of phrases in the poem, and the movements literally matched to the meanings of the words. The fast-paced precision is exhilarating. The absence of music highlights instead the strength of the words, voice and bodies in motion. The poem can be read on the page here.


Film-maker, Writer & Performer: Sabina England
Voice & Sound Design: Micropixie
Music: Om/Off (Paco Seren and Pablo Alvarez)

Sabina England makes beautiful expressive dance from American Sign Language in this film about identity. In her own words…

It’s based on a poem of the same name that I wrote, which I performed in San Francisco, Washington DC and at Pride Fest. It’s about exploring my identity as a deaf brown girl growing up feeling isolated, lonely and different, and learning to accept who I was and coming to love myself.

I shot beautiful scenes of various places all over Bihar, including the ancient Buddhist site at Mahabodi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. I also went to a deaf girls school in Patna and I was so proud and impressed with these little girls because they could write in Hindi, English, and they were also fluent in Indian Sign Language! (source)


Film-maker & Writer: Amang
Composer & Singer: Lo Sirong

A musical videopoem from Taiwan, More Than One features the exquisite voice of Lo Sirong singing a poem by the writer known as Amang, who is also the film-maker. The image streams in Amang’s videos are distinctly poetic in themselves, with a quality of mystery going far beyond literal illustration of the words. The wonderful music and voice of Lo Sirong features in some videos by other film-makers here. More videos from Amang are here.


Film-makers: Marichka Lukianchuk & Elena Baronnikova
Writer: Marichka Lukianchuk
Dancer: Angelina Andriushina
Music: DakhaBrakha

This profoundly moving video from Marichka Lukianchuk and Elena Baronnikova features a brief dance sequence as part of an ensemble of poetic image and sound. The subject is the experience of living in Ukraine at this time of war. I find unimaginable serenity and bravery in this film. The simple beauty of the dance performed by Angelina Andriushina is an important part of the vulnerability and hope expressed. The music that further graces the piece is by DakhaBrakha. Marichka Lukianchuk writes eloquently and at more length about the film here.


Film-maker: Tal Rosner
Writer: Langston Hughes
Composer: Lior Rosner
Singer: Janai Brugger
Dancers: Cameron McMillan & Fiona Merz

The poem Shadows by Langston Hughes (1901-1967) is expressed in this film in exquisite music by Lior Rosner, so beautifully sung by Janai Brugger. Visually it begins as an abstract animation that graphically responds to the music, later morphing into fragmented moments of dance performed by Cameron McMillan and Fiona Merz. The film-maker bringing all elements together is Tal Rosner. The poem can be read on the page at poets.org. More information and stills can be found at Tal Rosner’s website.


Film-maker: Marc Neys
Writer & Voice: Hugo Claus
Choreography & Performance: Nadia Vadori-Gauthier

Central to this haunting film by influential Belgian artist Marc Neys, is an extraordinary dance piece created and performed by Nadia Vadori-Gauthier, artistic director of the French dance company Le Prix de l’essence. The piece for this film is from her amazing project titled One minute of dance a day. For this she has posted inventive short dance videos every single day since 2015. Marc Neys has been a prolific maker of distinctive videopoetry for over a decade. His slow motion treatment of the dance, and his selection of moments from it are mesmerising. The dark ambient music is also his creation. The poem is read in Dutch by its well-known Flemish author, Hugo Claus (1929-2008), in a recording from the German Lyrikline website, where it can be read in a number of different translations.


Film-makers: Matthieu Maunier-Rossi & Ronan Cheneau
Writer: Ronan Cheneau
Choreographer & Performer: Aïpeur Foundou

Congolese dancer Aïpeur Foundou is a graceful and compelling presence in this film, a collaboration between director Matthieu Maunier-Rossi and poet Ronan Cheneau, both in France. The poem is a reverie about the freedom that can be found within, in simple experiences and places, when it cannot be found in the wider world. The film-maker writes about the process of making the piece here.


Film-maker: Katie Garrett
Writer: Ella Jane Chappell
Voices: Katie Garrett & Nicholas Herrmann
Choreography: Anna-Lise Marie Hearn
Performers: Laura Boulter, KJ Clarke-Davis, Lydia Costello, Jennifer Jones, Nathalia Lillehagen & Ella Mackinder

Film-maker Katie Garrett and writer Ella Jane Chappell, both in the UK, teamed up with Norwegian choreographer Anna-Lise Marie Hearn to create this affecting dance film that won the Southbank Poetry Film Festival in 2014. From the film’s notes at Vimeo:

At the heart of Rolling Frames are a series of shifting voices and characters that inhabit three very different relationships. These relationships are linked by the role that dependency plays in each. To some extent, every relationship involves a yielding of independence. The poem dissects this manner of yielding: the manifestation of greed in desire, the vulnerability in love, the loneliness in lust. The physicality and inner rhythms of the words are translated once over by the expressive movements of dance, and once again through the gaze of the camera’s eyes.


Film-maker: Jane Glennie
Writer: Rosie Garland
Voice: Rosie Garland & Alison Glennie
Dancer: Natasha Jervis

This film about a dancer draws inspiration from the life of Austrian-born Tilly Losch (1903-1975), also a choreographer, actor and painter. It is a collaboration between film-maker Jane Glennie and writer/performer Rosie Garland, both award-winning artists in the UK. The subject is the representation of women artists in history, especially the ways their stories have been footnoted in relation to famous men. Jane Glennie animates thousands of her photographs in a rapid stream, meticulously layered with contrasting rhythms that underscore voice and text. Rosie Garland’s expressive narration of her own poem is highly effective, alternating with that of Alison Glennie, equally as affecting in the sections that evoke Losch speaking for herself. Jane Glennie writes about the process of making the film here.


Film-maker: Mark Wilkinson
Writer and Performer: Rich Ferguson
Singer: Stella Ademiluyi

Compared to most poetry videos, Human Condition is an action-packed blockbuster. It was written and performed by Rich Ferguson, the beat poet laureate of California 2020-2022. For this satirical, sometimes scathing, yet ultimately uplifting musical, he teamed up with director Mark Wilkinson and an ensemble of performers and musicians, including singer Stella Ademiluyi and James Morrison from the cast of Twin Peaks. The text of the poem is posted at YouTube in the video notes.

Halloween by Hugo Claus


UPDATE (3 Oct. 2015): Swoon has re-edited the English version, replacing the Jovan Todorovic film clip with footage by Jan Eerala.


Belgian artist Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon recently released two entirely different films for a poem by his great countryman Hugo Claus: “a ‘European Dance-version’ (using Hugo’s reading from Lyrikline) and an ‘American Road movie version’ using a fantastic reading Michael Dickes made from the English translation by John Irons,” as he put it in a blog post.

The visual idea for the Dutch version came to me watching a great series of short videos by dancer/artist Nadia Vadori-Gauthier: One Minute of Dance a Day:

‘since January 14, 2015, I’ve been posting one minute of dance to this blog every day, simply, without editing or effects, in the place and state of mind I find myself that day, with no special technique, staging, clothing, or makeup, nothing but what is there.’

I asked if I could use one of her ‘minutes’ (2 février 2015 – 20e danse) for this videopoem. I could.
I simply adore this combination of Hugo’s poem, his voice and her dancing in the snow.
Enjoy! (There’s also a version with French subtitles: https://vimeo.com/118980966)


The source of the ‘road movie’ version is a music video by the collective ESNAF
Their video for ‘The Long Haul’ by NO (cinematography by Jovan Todorović) had all the ingredients I needed for the English version of the poem. I believe the little storyline is the perfect match for the poem and Michael Dickes’ reading.