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Elements of the LADD Project


1994 the Consortium received a NIPAD grant in the amount of $75,000 to carry out a two-year pilot project addressing critical issues in dance documentation and preservation. The components of the LADD Project were designed to develop aware-ness and knowledge of current technical and aesthetic standards for dance docu-mentation, to develop tools and methodologies for documentation, and to provide consistent and sustainableresources for quality video documentation to the commu-nity of dance artists, companies, presenters, and videographers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Introductory Community Forum


  • The idea that one must consider what one desires first. Then one looks for the means.
  • Money can only buy a camera. It cannot buy knowledge, vision, experience, truth honesty, or artistic and aesthetic agreement.
  • The Bay Area has dancers and videographers who are willing to try to work together and communicate even though we have in the past felt worlds apart.
  • The use and importance of Betacam SP to achieve quality video product.
  • The importance (to me, and to us all) to take responsibility in upgrading to improve the quality of our video product.

A Participant's comments on the LADD Public Workshops.

On February 15, 1995, the Consortium held a community forum to introduce the LADD Project. Because the project's initiatives aimed at implementing innovative and definitive improvements in the documentation practices of San Francisco Bay Area dance companies, the Consortium sought clear and informed imperatives from the community it set out to serve. To this end, a survey was mailed to community members, and its results tabulated. The meeting, which was open to the general public, served a threefold purpose. It allowed the Consortium to survey the dance and video communities to ascertain the state of documentation and to discuss relevant issues and needs. It enabled the partnering organizations to create an awareness in the community of the goals of NIPAD in general and LADD in particular. And it offered an opportunity to solicit feedback about LADD's plans for implementing these objectives. Specifically, the Consortium publicly announced and initiated discussions on the following proposals:

  • A series of community workshops addressing documentation themes and teaching practical video skills.
  • A fellowship program that would train dance artists and videographers in the art and technique of dance videography.
  • A formal practicum affording the fellows experience in creating quality video dance documentation using the two-camera set up.

Public Workshops: Documenting Dance on Video

Workshop One

On September 23, 1995, the LADD Project hosted the first of two day-long public workshops titled Documenting Dance on Video. Held at the studios of San Francisco's public television station, KQED, Workshop One addressed the types and uses of video documentation with an emphasis on choreographic, artistic and cultural issues. For a registration fee of $25 members of the dance and video communities were invited to attend and participate in the following panels:

The Voice of Experience

Merrill BrockwayIndependent producer; former Producer of "Dance in America"
Ashley JamesProducer, Searchlight Films
Douglas RosenbergChoreographer; Videographer; Director, American Dance Festival Video Archive
Linda Schaller
Producer/Director of dance and performance documentaries

1 Transcripts of all panel discussions from Documenting Dance on Video Workshops One and Two are archived at PALM.

Recently I choreographed a piece called "Lidnjo" which is from Dubrovnik. I was able to get a hold of a video from this Yugoslav group, and see how they used their own steps and styling in choreographic patterns. It gave me a sense of what [the dance] feels like, the texture of the people's lives.

Hilary Roberts
Artistic Director
Westwind International Folk Dance Ensemble

In The Voice of Experience, an outstanding panel of experienced specialists presented their personal systems and approaches to dance documentation. The desirability of forming relationships between artistic directors and videographers that will last over time was a common theme as well as impressing the importance of the videographer's dedication to dance as an art form.

Panel and audience comments:
  • A thorough collaboration does not only involve the videographer and artistic director, but also the lighting designer, musicians and all others who contribute to setting the dance for the stage.
  • The videographer can be considered the accompanist to the dancer.
  • Dance occurs in three dimensions while video takes place in two dimensions.
  • Questions to ask when choosing a dance video project: What is this dance about? What is the purpose of videotaping it? Will this dance translate to video? Will the video bring to light new aesthetic revelations?
  • Framing is more important to dance video than obtaining optimum camera angles.
  • Dance videography has much in common with videotaping sports events.
Viewer's View
Ella Baff Education and Community Outreach Administrator, Cal Performances
Jo Ann DriscollDriscoll/Horton Public Relations and Advertising
Christine ElbelProgram Officer, Fleishhacker Foundation
Patty Ann FarrellTechnical Director/Production Manager/Lighting Designer, San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco Performances
Judy NemzoffNemzoff and Roth Touring Artists
Hilary RobertsArtistic Director, Westwind International Folk Dance Ensemble
Dean Beck-StewartGeneral Director, Theater Artaud (moderator)

It's important that the videographers and filmmakers know about the form, the field that they're going to be viewing, and the rhythm of the movement of the dance. The videographer has to be part of that, so they have to move with it.

Kim Fowler
Arts Consultant

The Viewer's View panel brought together representatives from different fields to discuss the ways in which their professions view and use video. "Why document?" and "What eventual purpose will this videotape serve?"--initial questions asked in any video documentation project-were the subjects placed before the panelists by the moderator. The panelists addressed the use of video throughout the artistic process including creation, production, presentation, promotion, education, touring and funding. Responses ranged from personal testimony to video's utility in the process of creating dance to bare bones assertions that quality videos mean more bookings, and more bookings mean more money.

Panel and audience comments:

  • Dance artists use video for research, critique and promotion. (Artistic Director)
  • Video is useful in the creation of lighting design and the determination of technical specifications required by a performance. (Technical Director and Lighting Designer)
  • A video is a powerful tool for representation. Quality video will sell dance. (Booking Manager)
  • Video can open the door to the national and international marketplace. (Booking Manager)
  • Video helps presenters promote dance to funders and to the general com-munity. (Presenter).
  • Quality video can be used to leverage financial resources. (Presenter)
  • Video is of paramount importance in the decision-making process of granting organizations. Tapes submitted to funders should be high-quality, clear, and well produced. (Foundation Officer)
  • Flat, one-camera, back-of-the-house documentation is not desired. (Talent Agent)
  • Making broadcast quality video available to local media increases the potential for both print and television coverage of dance events. (Publicist)

Artists' Issues in Documenting Dance

Lily CaiArtistic Director, Chinese Cultural Productions
Kate FoleyArtistic Director, Kate Foley Dance Company
Mythili KumarMaster Teacher/Artistic Director, Abhinaya Dance Company
Pearl UbungenChoreographer/Director, Pearl Ubungen Dancers & Musicians
Kim FowlerArts Consultant and Artist(moderator)

Articulating space and the energy the dancers infuse the space within the [video] frame is very difficult. It is possible to communicate [the energy], but it requires new tools. I think the more we can investigate those tools from the inside, the better off we'll be. Good partnerships are the paths to make that happen.

Kate Foley
Artistic Director
Kate Foley Dance Group and LADD Fellow

Artists' Issues in Documenting Dance placed the creators of the works that video documentation serves to preserve at the center of discussion, tackling head-on the issues and concerns of artistic directors. Starting with the premise that video docu-mentation of dance is the process of capturing a three-dimensional form in the two-dimensional format, the artists and the audience shared perspectives on the translation process. Panelists used both videotapes and personal accounts to illustrate how video impacts their own work, as well as to describe productive relationships they have built (or wished they could build) with videographers.

Panel and audience comments:
  • Whether its a multi-camera shoot or a single-camera shoot, good communication makes good tapes possible.
  • Good videographers will understand the rhythm of the dance and anticipate movement.
  • Working with the same videographer over time improves the quality of your dance company's video. Developing long-standing relationships makes it possible to have your performance recorded by someone who knows both you and your work.
  • From the videographer/filmmaker's point of view, the choreographer needs to make a relationship with the videographer. Because you really do have a marriage of minds. And artistically not everybody always matches up [proves compatible].

    Linda Schaller

  • If you work with an amateur videographer rather than a professional, be sure to give instructions for even the most basic elements of shooting.
  • Experienced dance videographers who shoot intuitively are the most desirable partners in any documentation project.
  • Sometimes, it's more effective to capture the feeling of being at the event than to produce straight, documentary footage.
  • Watching video of dance reminds artistic directors that dance is not just a performing art, but also a visual art.
  • Artists, when possible, may want to use the video resources (both human and mechanical) of schools and public access stations to defray the costs of video production.
  • Since the cost of video duplication is cheap, it can be hard to control the distribution (approved or unapproved) of videotaped dance works.
Developing a Common Language

Robert AllenExecutive Director, World Arts West
Dean Beck-StewartGeneral Director, Theater Artaud
Kim FowlerArts Consultant and Artist
Luke HonesProgram Director, BAVC(moderator)

Moderators of the preceding panels were gathered together to synthesize and distill the results of their earlier discussions. Using as the common thread the primacy of communication, the panelists expanded upon the testimony of workshop panelists and audiences to flesh out visions of ideal collaborations between the video and dance communities. Throughout the deliberations echoed the question central to doc-umentation in general and the LADD Project in particular: How do we as a communi-ty engender collaborative and equitable relationships between videographers and artistic directors, but still acknowledge that dance ultimately lies at the heart of the matter?

Panel and audience comments:
    There is a continuum that all of this new work is coming from. A legacy and a history. And part of our problem is that we're not connecting it because we don't have the documentation.

    Dean Beck-Stewart
    General Director
    Theater Artaud

  • Documentation of dance in the U.S. has reached a critical historical moment. Urgency and accessibility issues must be addressed.
  • Documenting dance on video is an investment in the dance community.
  • Early and extensive communication between artistic director and videographer improves tape quality. Close alliances between the two over the course of a variety of video projects improves tape quality further.
  • Knowing what you want out of your video makes obtaining that footage more cost-efficient.
  • Long-term planning is the key to budgeting for high-quality video.
  • Often, the struggle to bring video and dance together is decided by the availability of funds.
  • Artistic directors have many questions about who holds the legal rights to videotaped material and what those rights entail. Rights to a video record of a dance performance should be obtained up front. Rights issues can be complicated, and without securing rights in the beginning, a dance company could spend money producing videotape it will not have the legal right to use.

Public Workshop Two

The workshops have opened my horizons.

Comment from LADD Public Workshop participant

On October 6, 1995, hosted by the Yerba Buena Gardens Center for the Arts, the LADD Project presented its second day-long public workshop in the Media Screening Room. Workshop Two used examples of practical applications to expand upon the themes addressed in Workshop One, incorporating investigations of the "nuts and "bolts" of dance documentation on video. For a registration fee of $25 members of the dance and video communities were invited to attend and participate in the following panels:

Process and Language

Margaret Jenkins Artistic Director, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
Luke HonesProgram Director, BAVC
Douglas RosenbergChoreographer; Videographer; Director, American Dance Festival Video Archive
Dean Beck-Stewart
General Director, Theater Artaud

Every person who is going to film dance should take a dance class. I conversely think that every dance person who is going to work with video should take some kind of video class. We should educate ourselves as to what that [medium] is and what it can do.

Joe Goode
Artistic Director
Joe Goode Performance Group

Understandings of the languages used by dance artists and videographers were explored through first-hand accounts describing the creation of dance works and video. The general discussion of language, along with a primer on the production process, highlighted the artistic and technical processes involved in the creation of both the dance and video media.

Panel and audience comments:
  • Video is created by teams of people, not just individuals.
  • A two-camera shoot at a single performance is superior to a one-camera shoot at consecutive performances as timing, lighting and action can vary from night to night. A two-camera shoot sets up optimal editing conditions.
  • At times it is advantageous to restage choreography for the camera.
  • Choreography can be conceived for the camera.
  • Dance is subject to copyright once it has become fixed or written. This "fixing" can take the form of notation, diagrams or video.
  • Editing or post-production entails making an edit decisions list, booking editing time in advance, and spending time with an editor.
  • For archival purposes, tapes should be clearly labeled with the when, who, what and where of the performance.
  • Tapes have a shelf life of 5-10 years.

Planning and Communication

Joe GoodeArtistic Director, Joe Goode Performance Group
Nola MarianoCo-Director, Circuit Network
Yasmen Sorab MehtaChoreographer, California Contemporary Dancers
Julie MillerProducer/Director, Julie Miller Productions
Linda SchallerProducer/Director of dance and performance documentaries
Robert Allen
Executive Director, World Arts West

Even if you do put a camera in the back of the hall and tape for two hours, you're still going to communicate a different sense of time than that of a person sitting in the theater. And that has to be recognized. No matter what you do, you will not be translating a live experience into that little box.

Julie Miller
Julie Miller Productions

Stressing the importance of planning in the process of creating quality dance video, artistic directors and videographers discussed the ways in which productive partnerships are developed. The panel touched upon subjects from the elementary to the theoretical, ranging from the selection of a videographer to the translation between artistic mediums. The discussion put at issue the initiation of collaborations that do not merely create quality dance video but ultimately improve the overall standards of dance documentation.

Panel and audience comments:
  • Artistic directors should know what they want to emerge from the video production process.
  • Artistic directors should look for videographers willing to immerse themselves in the dance work.
  • Artistic directors and videographers need to develop a shared understanding in which their two art forms can meet.
  • Developing a relationship with a videographer allows for achieving intimacy with and understanding of the dance work.
  • Videographers must acquire a knowledge of the art of dance itself.
  • Dance space and time differ from video space and time. Videographers and artistic directors should work together to translate between the two mediums. Prioritizing is an important factor.
  • Verbal articulation may not be a dance artist's strong point. Videographers should ask questions to make sure they understand what the artistic director is trying to communicate, especially if English is not spoken by or is not the first language of all participants.
  • Videographers cannot simply run the camera in dance documentation projects. They must also act as directors, producers and production managers.
  • Thorough planning is a key factor in the nuts and bolts of successful production work.
  • Realistic budgets and timelines help artistic directors get the video they want when working with limited resources.
  • Video should be considered a long-term investment. Renting quality video equipment is money well spent.

Video Production and Post-production

Joanna HaigoodArtistic Director, ZACCHO Dance Theatre
Lise SwensonVideo Producer, Director and Editor
Brian FerrallCalifornia Lawyers for the Arts
Grace LanFacility Manager, BAVC
Sally Jo Fifer
Executive Director, BAVC

Live performance and video, clearly, are two separate mediums. And I think in the past I was very attached to documenting the piece as it was. And [I] neglected the fact that I could use the video in a better way if I really thought about what its capabilities were, and how I could use that to portray the essential elements of what the performance was trying to portray in this other form.

Joanna Haigood
Artistic Director, ZACCHO
Dance Theatre

Overviews of video technologies and methodologies were offered with special attention given to issues that commonly arise when creating performance video. From shooting to editing techniques and from ownership to copyright issues, strategies for producing tapes in real world conditions were presented by experienced professionals from the field.

Panel and audience comments:
  • The area of copyright as it relates to dance and video is of great concern to the artists involved but is a little understood issue. Original work or expressions are protected by copyright. Artistic directors and videographers must sort through the multiple creative contributions (sound, text, choreography) to insure that everyone receives the appropriate rights and protections afforded by copyright law.
  • In work-for-hire situations, generally the employer retains copyright to the finished work.
  • Sometimes artistic directors train themselves as videographers and editors in order to conserve resources and to create truly representational video of their own work.
  • When artistic directors know their budget and their timeline it is easier for video professionals to help them make good decisions.
  • If you cannot afford broadcast quality video, you can still make good video your goal.
  • Documenting experimental work that includes unexpected action demands more cameras than staged work in which movement can be reasonably anticipated.
  • Contrary to popular belief, post-production is not always prohibitively expensive. People with small budgets should not automatically assume that they cannot afford post-production-a range of low- as well as high-cost editing options are available.
  • Artistic directors can take on post-production tasks, like tape logging, to save money.
  • Paying for placing time code on source tapes can save money in the post-production process.
  • Ask for special deals and weekend rental extensions when renting video gear. Always inquire about discounts at video facilities and ask how to avoid fees for delivery, cancellation and the like.
  • Keep in mind that machines sometimes breakdown.

Working Within a Budget

Hilary RobertsArtistic Director, Westwind International Folk Ensemble
Suellen McCannMiramar Productions
Douglas RosenbergChoreographer; Videographer; Director, American Dance Festival Video Archive

The Board of Trustees came to me and said, Hilary, if we give you $4,000, would you like to spend it on choreographies, and I said no, I'd like to get a video. Which means not having any money for choreographies. The Board was just shocked. But I would give up the new works to have a really good videotape.

Hilary Roberts
Artistic Director
Westwind International Folk Dance Ensemble

The process of creating a budget for video was demonstrated and demystified by members of the video and dance communities. The panel asked two questions: "How do you create room for a video in the dance company's budget?" and "How do you create a budget for video that maximizes the quality of the final product while working within the company's means?"Asking questions such as "how will I use this video," "what is its artistic purpose" and "what are my expectations" were discussed as the initial stages of any budget-making process.Within the context of proffering strategies for achieving the highest quality video at the lowest possible costs, the discussions suggested that while "you get what you pay for," a quality video may make more money than it costs to produce over the long term.

Panel and audience comments:

  • Consider money budgeted to video as an investment in your dance company's future.
  • A complete and well organized budget is an effective fundraising tool.
  • In certain instances, an artistic director can shift money from other items in the artistic budget to support video or amortize it with future booking revenues.
  • In low-budget situations, a close relationship between the videographer and the artistic director in the planning stages of the project is vital. Planning is essential to cost-efficient video production.
  • Budgets can often be negotiated to keep costs down. Don't hesitate to attempt to negotiate the cost of individual budget items in order to secure the best deal.
  • Research subsidized programs and facilities such as the American Dance Festival Subsidized Video Program.

Consortium Meetings

Throughout the two-year project, representatives from each Consortium organization met periodically to monitor, maintain and adjust the smooth administration of the program. With no director employed, the Consortium adopted a hands-on approach to the LADD Project which encouraged the implementation of adjustments, improvements and new ideas when problems were encountered or new opportunities were presented. As a result, close contacts were established among PALM, BAVC, Theater Artaud and World Arts West, strengthening the bonds between the institutions that anchor San Francisco Bay Area networks of dance and video resources. The very administration of the LADD Project made possible one of its goals: the establishment of enduring relationships among its member institutions. This institutional exchange highlighted the emergence of visible networks of publicly accessible dance and video resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. Increased awareness of these networks will facilitate future dance documentation projects.

Fellows Learning Applications Program

What we as videographers have to offer the field is our deeply ingrained understanding of the language and behavior of dances, dancers and choreographers. Our understanding of the dance form is intuitive, second nature, and is reflected instinctively when we shoot. Even a master technician would not be able to learn what we know.

Although I am a novice technician at this point, I have gained a basic understanding through the project of how to set up and operate a camera and to make intelligent choices about light, sound, framing, and camera movement within the two-camera mode. I can discuss strategic options with a choreographer in the spirit of an advocate, and encourage good mutual decision-making.

Kate Foley
Artistic Director
Kate Foley Dance Group and LADD Fellow

The LADD Video Fellowship Program offered ten selected Fellows the opportunity to train with professional mentors from the fields of videography and dance performance. With no formal infrastructure for training dance videographers in place in the community, the fellowship program was designed not only to impart specialized skills to a chosen group of individuals, but to lay the groundwork for the long-term benefits of a sustainable transfer of knowledge, standards and technology. Hands-on technical workshops, one-on- one discussions and extensive practical shooting experience comprised the rigorous and lively training program. The two-year fellowships, which included a modest stipend, were awarded in accordance with criteria that stressed the commitment to the field-wide gain, in addition to previous individual experience in videography or dance documentation.

Technical Workshops

  • Hands-on Introduction to the S-VHS Camera with Kirk Schroeder: Held on January 14, 1996, the first workshop offered group instruction on the components of documenting dance on video providing fellows with an intensive overview of the video production process, focusing on operational issues and challenges specific to taping dance performances. The one-day training session afforded each fellow hands-on experience with the equipment to be used in the course of the LADD Project.
  • Introduction to the Aesthetics of Contemporary and Ethnic Dance with Bob Allen and Dean Beck-Stewart: This introduction to dance aesthetics focused on the exploration of form, content and context in both the dance and video realms. The session stressed the importance of research, experience and sensitive communications.
  • Camera Aesthetics and Techniques with Kirk Schroeder: On March 24, 1996, the second workshop introduced fellows to the theory and practice of camera movement, focusing on the integration of aesthetics and technique. The workshop included an explanation of how the camera "sees" and an exploration of the psychological ramifications of different approaches to framing the dance subject. Lighting techniques were discussed, including shooting in available light. A theater lighting designer covered issues specific to videotaping in the theatrical environment. Representatives of Theater Artaud lead discussions about choreography specifics and ethnic dance aesthetics.
  • Sound Production Basics with Bill Stephanacci: The April 14, 1996 sound workshop addressed specifically the use of sound in the context of dance documentation. Covering basic sound theory and technique as well as recording sound for dance, overviews of equipment, production design and relevant sound sources within the house were provided. A theater sound engineer was on hand to answer questions specific to audio taping in a theatrical environment. A representative from World Arts West discussed kinds of sounds and music which occur in ethnic and contemporary dance performance.
  • Pre-production Planning with Linda Schaller: Held on April 20, 1996 the final workshop addressed the all-important planning stage of production. Zeroing in on communication as the key to meeting both the videographer's and the artistic director's expectations, the workshop acquainted Fellows with the questions to be asked and preparations to be made before dance is documented on video. Fellows engaged in role-playing exercises to explore the relationship between artistic director and videographer. Written instructional guidelines were presented offering useful tips on negotiation, education and anticipation in the context of video production for dance performance.


The LADD Project's Fellows program did not focus merely on training--it emphasized the creation of productive and sustainable relationships bridging the dance and video communities. Highly motivated video professionals coached Fellows during practica dress rehearsals and engaged in insightful critiquing sessions of the resulting footage. The transfer of knowledge from person to person, community to community, was further reinforced by monthly meetings of the Consortium representatives and the Fellows. These meetings laid the groundwork for a dance and video community network and granted the Fellows the opportunity to comment upon and hone the focus of the LADD Project.


I see why that if you come from a background of shooting drama or news or music, shooting dance would be unnerving. I see why videographers who only handle dance every once in a while pull out wide, and sort of stay there. Because having not shot these other forms, I was ready for some action. The speaking pieces and the music pieces were so almost absolutely motionless. The camera's change of shots makes the drama. It is almost the reverse in the case of dance video.

In dance video, the camera is motivated by the movement, and rides with the movement, and must do so to capture it. In drama and music the camera actually creates the movement, motivated by who is playing or speaking. To move the camera in order to switch shots creates amotion that is not really there.

Judith Sims, LADD Fellow, on taping the Theater Artaud Dance Marathon.

Practical experience videotaping dance performances comprised a crucial component of the Fellows program. Dance companies in the existing seasons at Theater Artaud and previously scheduled activities within the ethnic dance community identified by World Arts West were chosen by the Consortium to illustrate specific challenges to the documentation of dance on video. The Fellows tackled these challenges, gaining live production experience while creating a lasting video record of select performances reflecting the richness and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area dance community. The Practica were divided into two types of video exercises: the "two-shoot" and "in-depth shoot." Each video production utilized the LADD Project's two-camera S-VHS equipment package. Video Fellows worked in teams of three. The rotating roles included: running the wide-angle camera, running the close-up camera, and monitoring sound levels and overall trouble-shooting. The copies of the footage created in the practica were provided to the participating dance companies and archived at PALM for general public access.

The Two-Shoot

Each Fellow was given the opportunity to participate in two "two-shoots." The two-shoot practica consisted of at least one facilitated meeting between the artistic director and videographers, a dress rehearsal shoot and the live performance shoot. For each exercise, written descriptions of the work were generated and unique video challenges posed by the performance were articulated. While a mentor was available to assist Fellows during the dress rehearsal shoots, Fellows were solely responsible for the conduct of the performance night tapings. Fellows discussed performance intent, content, and physical production parameters with artistic directors, learned practical issues in camera gear handling, and gained experience in theater policies and audience considerations.

Production Title: Alegr╠a de San Jos╚
Company: Alegr╠a de San Jos╚
Culture Area: Mexico
Artistic Directors: Rudy Garcia and Maria Luisa Colmenarez
Venue: San Jose Stage Theatre
Production Title: Any Space Between Shadows
Company: Robert Moses' Kin
Artistic Director: Robert Moses
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Kiyohime
Company:Unbound Spirit Dance Company
Artistic Director: Claudine Naganuma
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Powerful Science
Company: Macfarland/Whistler DanceArt Company
Artistic Director: Duncan Macfarland
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Project Bandaloop
Company: Project Bandaloop
Artistic Director: Ameilia Rudolph
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Indonesian Day '96
Company:Sri Susilowati
Culture Area: Sunda/Java (Indonesia)
Artistic Director: Sri Susilowati
Venue: Union Square
Production Title: Artaud Dance Marathon
Culture Area: Various
Presenter: Theater Artaud
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions 1996
Culture Area: Various
Presenter: World Arts West
Venue: McKenna Auditorium (San Francisco State University)

The In-depth Shoot

It was more enjoyable shooting pieces I was more familiar with. Potential lost shots because of sudden level changes in the dancers' movements were captured without loss of the close-up. If a choreographer goes to the trouble of making a piece, it is best that it be completed before the performance. For the ease of shooting and maximization of capturing the pieces' intimate points.

You can't be intimate with a camera if you don't know the piece.

Judith Sims, LADD Fellow, on taping Robert Moses Kin.

Each Fellow was given the opportunity to participate in one "in-depth shoot." The in-depth practica were designed to "road test" the standards and methodologies espoused by the LADD program, affording the Fellows the time and resources necessary to engage in a thorough preproduction exploration of the performance to be documented. The in-depth shoot process was initiated at least two months before the performance date and included extensive meetings with the artistic director and repeat rehearsal attendance. Relevant research was conducted, including reviewing of video of past performances, studying similar dance works, and learning about the cultural traditions that inform the work. Fellows engaged in the process of building relationships with artistic directors over time, put into practice camera aesthetic techniques, and made a thoughtful and concerted effort to create quality video footage of carefully studied performances.

Production Title: Return to Ordinary Life
Company: Contraband
Artistic Director: Sara Shelton Mann
Venue: Theater Artaud
Production Title: Masaganang Ani
Company:Barangay Dance Company
Culture Area: Philippines
Artistic Director: Bonafasio Valera, Jr.
Venue: McKenna Auditorium (San Francisco State University)
Production Title: Gandhi-The Mahatma
Company:Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose
Culture Area: South India (Bharata Natyam)
Artistic Director: Mythili Kumar
LADD: Elements of the LADD Project3.21
Venue: St. Mary's College in Moraga
Production Title: Mouth to Mouth
Company: The Lab Projekt Performance Group
Artistic Director: Enrico Labayen
Venue: Theater Artaud

Group Critiques

The term "critique" as used in dance and video does not denote an exercise in criticism, but rather suggests a forum for reviewing and learning from a completed work. Often the moment for sitting back and thoughtfully viewing and evaluating footage never arrives. Without critique, videographers are robbed of an important opportunity to improve their work by seeing successful and not so successful production strategies embodied on tape. Likewise, without critique artistic directors do not have the opportunity to communicate to the videographer what worked well, what fell flat, and why. The LADD Project recognized the value of critique as a part of the videographer's educational and creative process. Viewing sessions were instituted to let the videographer gather feedback and pointers from both artistic directors and video mentors in separate showings, allowing the video and dance perspective to be communicated clearly, and without mediation. Creative problem solving and using video to meet effectively the challenges of the dance work were stressed.

Final Community Forum

On November 9, 1996, the Consortium, Fellows, and interested members of the dance and video communities gathered together to participate in the LADD Project's final public forum. The history of the two-year project was highlighted, challenges recounted, and findings reported. Fellows presented excerpts of footage, sharing accounts of their educational trials and artistic tribulations. The legacy of the LADD Project was discussed, and the Consortium announced the availability of the two-camera S-VHS package for dance documentation in the community. The final forum, however, did not merely serve as a review of the accomplishments of a two-year training program. It marked a definitive moment in which a group of model dance videographers and committed dance and video institutions, steeped in newly developed standards, techniques, and hopes for the documentation of dance, set forth to share their talent, knowledge and dedication with the community at large.