Unseen Cinema 7: Viva La Dance
The Beginnings of Ciné-Dance (1894-1946)

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21 videos in this playlist

Annabelle Dances and Dances (1894-1897) - 8 films
Annabelle's skirt dances are among the earliest artistic works in film history. Looking directly at us, she turns, crouches, extends her arms, carves the space of the frame with the…
Early Superimpositions (1896-1900) - 3 films
The filmmaker took several different scenes shot earlier between 1896 and 1899 and double-printed two sets of images together to create a new artistic creation. The transformation of a stage…
Diana the Huntress - excerpt
DIANA THE HUNTRESS is an early example of aesthetic dancing performed by both men and women. Although female dancers like Ruth St. Denis had made the form famous, few men…
The Soul of the Cypress
Shot at Point Lobos, California in 1920, Dudley Murphy's first Visual Symphony was very well received when screened commercially in New York in 1921, establishing Murphy as one of the…
Looney Lens Series: Pas de deux
An oddity to be sure, the camera original has survived intact as shot by cameraman Al Brick. Two men interact before a distorted-spherical mirror, and the ensuing play between the…
Hands: The Life and Loves of the Gentler Sex
The use of human hands as characters in a dance inspired narrative are used to explore female experience and representation. By drawing upon experimental traditions found in international art, film,…
Mechanical Principles
The film presents a deceptively "open" series of images of gears and pistons that transfer movement from vertical to rotary directions. Musical in its repetitive visual form, it now seems…
Tilly Losch in Her Dance of the Hands
Visionary stage designer, theater architect, and industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes shot hundreds of 16mm movies for research and pleasure. His amateur productions ranged from travelogues and science films to…
Sergei Eisenstein's Mexican Footage
Eisenstein's ill-fated trip to Hollywood and Mexico influenced many Americans approach to avant-garde cinema. Of all the beautiful images captured by Eisenstein in Mexico, some of the most fascinating involve…
Death Day
One of three films released through producer Sol Lesser in 1932-34, DEATH DAY is comprised of footage shot by Sergei Eisenstein for his unfinished film Que viva Mexico! This short…
Oramunde: An Etude on the Theme of Melissande
Oramunde is an illustration in dance of the tale of Pelleas et Mellissande, a story of two star-crossed lovers. The film confirms the belief that archetypal imagination is one of…
Hands
HANDS is an ingenious piece of propaganda that communicates not only through the thrust of its content, but through the very unconventionality of its "experimental" structure. The film suggests that…
La Joie de vivre
A tone poem [in which] two woodland sprites dance about, atop power lines and among flowers and leaves, while being pursued. Everyone spends some time pulling levers to switch trains,…
Dada
One of the liveliest of Mary Ellen Bute's abstract films, DADA was intended to be part of a Universal Newsreel segment, showing Bute and her partner Ted Nemeth at work…
Escape
Mary Ellen Bute's first color film tells a story in abstraction of an orange/red triangle imprisoned behind a grid of vertical and horizontal lines under a sky-blue expanse, perhaps representing…
Abstract Experiment in Kodachrome c.1940-50s
This dazzling stop-motion animation provided Vorkapich with a forum to demonstrate complex perceptual theories related to the persistence of vision and phi phenomenon. The dance of objects and their movements…
Tarantella
Color freed Bute's talent - where before she had been constrained by a quasi-scientific conception of the parallels between musical and visual dynamics. In TARANTELLA, she takes a more intuitive…
Spook Sport: A Graveyard Gambol
Animated by McLaren, utilizing his adroit ink-on-film technique, Bute's film visualizes Saint Saen's music. It features colored globes, ellipses, and triangles that move ghost-like over monochromatic backgrounds, communicating the notion…
Danse Macabre
Murphy's direction of a cinematic visual symphony is furthered with this short dance film conceived by dancer Adolph Bolm. Murphy makes original contributions with his depiction of the devil via…
Peer Gynt - “Pagan Dance”
An ambitious amateur film made in Chicago when the director was twenty years old, the star seventeen. Bradley also made 16mm versions of Oliver Twist, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar, the…
Introspection
These fragments of dancer imagery were produced in 1941 and 1946. Planned and directed by Sara Kathryn Arledge. Arledge's loosely-connected technical and aesthetic experiments utilize dance in an effort to…

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