The Dance Diaries Narrandera movie is in the making. In the meantime we’ve done a short 1 minute teaser!
Check it out:
Overall, Martin and I came to Narrandera four times in June, August and September. The first visit was a ‘meet n greet’ session, then two separate weekend workshops, and then the final workshop and filming week in September. This final week we filmed every day for 6 days (see below for daily diary of our filming process).
Martin and I outlined a loose story arc for the film based on the two themes we originally proposed, HOME and DANCING:
1. the individual in their home giving a dance;
2. the collective walking in and around their town;
3. the collective culminating for a ‘gathering’ or party and doing a dance.
In the mornings, we’d set up shots in each of the participants houses and film their individual ‘hand’ dances that we had developed in the workshop and fine tuned on the day of the shoot. We also did exterior shots of their houses. Most afternoons we filmed with the whole group involved, whereby the cast mostly performed a series of walks in different locations around Narrandera. Some of the walks were ‘normal’ walks and some walks were ‘a little strange’. These walks came out of exploring various bird movements in the workshop process. The third and final section was the ‘party’ scene.
The story arc grew out of the discussions from the workshop where we felt, with these particular six people, it was the community and the whole of Nerrandera that was their home rather than just their individual homes. And the metaphor of the nest came up in discussions, so we decided to use the nest as a metaphor to underscore the film. For us, the nest exemplifies that sometimes our homes are full, sometimes they are empty; at certain times in our lives the nest expands to become the whole town we live in and the community becomes part of this larger ‘nest’. I feel the nest symbolises something of comfort, nurturance and security, but the nest also hints at an underlying feeling of fragility… and that anything unexpected can happen at any time – and that nothing on this planet is permanent. As one enters later life, I’m sure this sense of fragility is magnified. So when we truly understand this, we can perhaps deeply appreciate each and every moment.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
It has been an interesting process for all of us – myself, Martin and the participants – getting to know each other and understand what the process is. It made me think a lot about trust and how trust simply takes time. It also made me think of everybody’s different perceptions of the reality that we are all sharing in the same moment. How affected we are by our upbringing and the generation we’ve each grown up with. I also noticed how much we all want to find connection and joy. Both Martin and I felt these six people were so courageous to enter the project which wasn’t a dance film as one might imagine a dance film to be, and to take a leap of faith and surrender to a process regardless of the outcome. I think many would consider the way we approached making this film to be quite unconventional. We didn’t enter with a pre-conceived idea of what the film would look like. We did enter with a few fimling ideas we are interested to try and a loose theme about ‘home and dancing’ but mostly it was unknown. The film essentially grows out of the process of meeting, spending time, sharing stories and listening to each other as well as what comes from the movement / dance workshops. For me, the process is just as important and the end result, perhaps even more important.
Day 6 – pm
And now we have come to the final shot – the ‘party scene’. We all piled into the old Narrandera train station of which one of the spaces is now the new Arts Hub for the community. We didn’t have much time as Betty needed to get away to head to Canberra with her daughter. But we did the shoot in good time and just before the afternoon light fell (we were relying on some of the sunlight through the windows for the shoot). So it was all perfect.
Afterwards we had our wrap party, with cake, nibbles and a good laugh.
Gwen’s house was our last house visit. We raced over to Gwen’s quite frazzled after spending the morning setting up the space at the old train station room for the afternoon’s ‘party scene’ shoot which will be the final shot for the project. Gwen did a beautiful hand dance for the filming and then, just when we were starving, and realized we hadn’t factored a lunch break into our schedule, she whipped out a home made quiche from her pantry! It was delicious! Gwen has lived in her house with her dear husband Tom for 46 years.
Day 5 – afternoon
On Thursday afternoon we went to Lake Coolah to do some filming with the whole group. I was extra excited as this was my favourite location. Lake Coolah hasn’t really filled up since the 70s until the recent floods in March this year. It’s a spectacular and expansive view – a perfect and accessible location for the Dance Diaires.