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These Video Portraits Will Give You Major #MondayMotivation

Mondays can be a struggle. But thanks to 52 Portraits, a dance video series produced by Sadler's Wells, I get my #MondayMotivation courtesy of some of the coolest dancers and choreographers working today. Every Monday, the site posts a new video "portrait" of a dance artist; the plan is to release one for every Monday of 2016. The portraits are by turns funny, thought-provoking and poignant, but all are equally gripping for distinctly individual reasons.

The project is a collaboration between choreographer Jonathan Burrows, composer Matteo Fargion and videographer Hugo Glendinning. Each video is brief, some only a minute long, and features a dance artist at a table in front of a simple black backdrop. The choreography is primarily gestural, reflective of the subject's individual style and background; the lyrics are comprised of statements made by the subject during the filming process, set to the tune of existing songs. The result is a deeply personal glimpse of the dancer or choreographer at a moment in time.

Take, for example, this portrait of choreographer Crystal Pite.

Pite shows off her lighting-quick hands and arms, repeating small sets of frustrated, precise movements as the score describes her struggles with memory since having her child.

Or Zenaida Yanowsky, a longtime principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. Yanowsky subtly adjusts and readjusts her classical port de bras with a fluidity that suggests her portrayal of Odette. The quiet music says that this piece is partly about her dealing with the thought of retirement.

One of the strangest yet most mesmerizing videos is William Forsythe's. The lyrics report Forsythe's musings on creativity in the kitchen to his garden to the place of dance in the world, while the choreographer, wearing a mask and a hoodie, plays with the folding of his hands and wrists across and above the table. He settles his fists, then his elbows on the table and looks at the camera directly as we hear, "He says moving makes him curious."

I'm not familiar with the work of all of the artists on the site, but getting to know them through these portraits has resulted in some delightful surprises. Today's contribution from London-based choreographer Seke Chimutengwende, accompanied only by a recording of him "making a sound of the dance he is dancing," brought a smile to my face. His fully embodied movements seem to illustrate a creative thought process.

 

All of the previous portraits and the accompanying lyrics are available to view on the 52 Portraits website. I, for one, can't wait to see what inspiration they have in store for next week.

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