Dancing Through Impermanent Spaces

Recently added to the CEISMIC archive is a collection of short dance films created by Elizabeth Guthrey. Lizzy returned to Christchurch earlier this year after spending the first half of the year in London and Madrid, studying towards her Master’s degree in Architectural Design and Management. She is interested in ecological building design, and loves to dance in her spare time. Together with her sister and some friends, Lizzy created a series of films which were presented at this year’s Body Festival. They are a fantastic example of the many unique, creative responses to the Christchurch earthquake, and we are excited that they are now a part of CEISMIC. This is what Lizzy has to say about the films:

I was inspired to make these films because I enjoy mixing together different artistic passions of mine, and presenting visual information that viewers can digest in their own way.  The current state of Christchurch city is very temporary, with demolition, temporary art and garden spaces, and construction going on.

Although this can be captured through photography, there is an aspect of the constant change that resonates with dance and film. Body shapes transfer from one to another. Within one space, different emotions and forms can take place. Dance can also tell stories of loss and hope. The short films 'In Memory of Loved Ones' and 'Poem and Dance' are about that.

The short films 'Design to Explore', and 'Leverage and Nature' were more about expressing the built environment abstractly. The later has a strong message about heritage buildings; that we can preserve something, bring in nature, and create historic gardens. This was shown with an example from the U.K.

The first short dance films made were 'Beneath the Layers: Wood salvaging', and 'Stillness and Change: Sculpting under the trees'. Salvaging wood from the house I grew up in was a natural thing for me to do, as I love conservation and reconstructing old into new. We really wanted to take dance out of its usual place on a theatre stage, and use an unexpected environment, such as a home, or perhaps a construction site. The theme for stillness and change was to bring about the contrast between sculptures in the gardens that seem forever unchanging, whilst the plants around are constantly adjusting for survival. It was really about our buildings seem more like sculptures- rock solid and unchanging, yet, from the earthquake we have seen how impermanent our whole environment is.

All of these dance films and a few more taken in the UK were presented for the first time at the Body Festival 2014, here in Christchurch. The dance was improvised in the spaces and music was added after during the editing process. It made sense to create movement in the spaces themselves, and not in a dance studio. This brings a unique element to this series of dance films.