Footfalls (2012)

Footfalls: A brand new Art Film by Striking Attitudes to Celebrate the Older Professional Dancer November 2011

Click here to watch the Footfalls film and trailer

Artistic Director and Choreographer – Caroline Lamb

Cinematographer and Editor – Luke Jacobs (recent award-winner from the Creative Review and currently shortlisted for an MTV award)

The young, lithe body will tell us one story, but the mature, experienced and ‘lived- in’ body will tell us another – a rich and profound tale, deep and full.” – Caroline Lamb.

Footfalls is a brand new dance/art film from Striking Attitudes. It celebrates the older dancer, involving both professional dancers (aged 46-63) and a ‘chorus’ of community dancers (aged 50 to 93) from  various regional groups around Wales.

Footfalls is exciting because it’s about courage, it’s about uncertainty, it’s about daring. Every one of its dancers, both professional and community, has made the choice to keep dancing when many of their contemporaries have, by this stage, chosen to give up and take other paths.

Striking Attitude’s Artistic Director, Caroline Lamb describes working with older dancers:

As a choreographer it is a joy to work with the older performer, as they have a wealth of experience and physical knowledge to draw from and there is a depth to their performance that is generally not to be found in the younger performer. Each dancer offers a unique palette of skills and a developed and assured personality that gives their work a particular colour and flavour. It informs the choreography and gives each movement meaning and adds a further layer to it.

caroline by river with dancer

The older dancer is not about being ’less’ of a performer but about being a ‘different’ performer – a performer with a depth of physical knowledge and life skills that can make for compelling and fascinating performances. Older dancers have more life experience, so more ‘stories’ to tell with their physicality,” continues Caroline. “Every movement an older dancer makes is underpinned with each individual’s own life story and experience. These experiences are etched into us as an emotional and physical memory and they inform each dancer’s performance in a unique way. Because of this life experience, older dancers often have a more potent physical energy despite having less actual stamina and flexibility. They also have more considered physicality that contains gravitas and emotional power.”

Footfalls tells of the paths we choose as we journey through life, of our struggle with the elemental forces of the natural world and with our own internal passions, of our fear of the dangers of this earth and our delight in its extraordinary beauty. We are mortal, earthly beings, fragile flesh challenged by the vastness of the universe and our insignificant place within it.  As travellers through this world, our existence on earth is but a brief breath in the life of a planet that has survived for aeons. We travel into the unknown. Sometimes the path ahead is hard, the journey so treacherous we fail and fall along the way. Sometimes the road is smooth and full of delights and sometimes we must part at the crossroads.

Filming of Footfalls took a year – on and off – to capture all the seasons.

Cinematographer Luke Jacobs and Caroline worked as a creative pair on the filming. “Luke was fantastic to work with as he has such a great eye for movement and is so imaginative,” says Caroline.  “Despite our 30 years age gap we found we gelled incredibly well in what we both wanted out of the filming process. I learnt a lot from him about what works and what doesn’t work with regard to dance and the camera. Luke learnt from me in the edit about how important meaning and emotional resonance are – so that we didn’t just end up with a series of beautiful shots.”

Striking Attitudes filmed in cold, rain, sunshine, wind and snow. The professional dancers even worked in the sea. “The older dancers seem to be game for anything,” says Caroline. “Maybe a sense of time moving on means that they are up for the next ‘adventure’ before it’s all too late!” 

As a choreographer, Caroline has worked with the Striking Attitudes professional dancers who all appear in Footfalls (Caroline Bunce, Brendan Charleson, June Campbell-Davies, Dylan Davies, Janet Fieldsend, Russell Gomer, Miranda Knight, Belinda Neave and Frank Rozelaar-Green)  for over 30 years. “It’s a joy because we have worked together for so long there’s a kind of shorthand that we are able to draw on – they know what I want very quickly and I know they know! It makes for a very productive, relatively relaxed and quite speedy rehearsal process.”

Dancers by the river

As a Wales-wide project, Footfalls also features mature community dancers (aged 50 – 93) from a number of regional dance groups including Cofio in Rhondda Cynon Taff, Dawns i Bawb in Caernarfon, Tan Dance in Swansea, Rhuddem in Ceredigion and Striking Attitudes Community Dancers in Cardiff.

Footfalls is a 20 minute dance/art film and is available on DVD at a cost of £10 plus postage and packing by contacting Anne Keeling, Striking Attitudes Project Manager, at anne@annekeeling.co.uk or calling Striking Attitudes at 02920-712265

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