The votes are in!

On Friday the 24th of July 2020, I learned that my dance film ‘Shift’ took out the ‘Best of Fest’ (20-30 minute category) in the 48th Dance on Camera Festival NYC. I was absolutely thrilled!

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48th Dance on Camera Festival NYC

48th Dance on Camera Festival Lincoln Centre NYC: 
“Shift” by Claire Marshall: Judging Status = “SELECTED”

I’m thrilled to report that my dance film “Shift”has been accepted into the 48th Dance on Camera Festival Lincoln Centre NYC. Inaugurated in 1971, this prestigious festival is the longest running dance film festival, and has an incredibly history with the work it has programmed. 

You can read more about the festival here:

Shift was created as an experiment as a part of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne last year. This is the first time my work has ever been selected for programming by this festival. 

Due to COVID19 and regulations in NYC, the festival will be online this year so that means it will be viewable from Australia! My film screens Sunday morning of the 19th  of July (aka late at 2am on the Saturday).

Tickets go on sale on the 1st of July 2020. The schedule is here:

In the lead up to the screening, the festival requested an interview with dancers Lucy Hood, Richard Causer, cinematographer Kevin Holloway and myself as the choreographer and editor of the film. We were interviewed by Alicia Graf Mack – former dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey, and current Director of the Dance Division at The Juilliard School!! The interview was recorded by former Paul Taylor company dancer, Michael Trusnovec!! It was truly such an honour to meet Alicia and Paul.

Once again, thanks to the small team who worked on this film: Richard Causer, Lucy Hood, Kevin Holloway, and friends who let us film at their place/ business/ birthday parties, as well as Amelia Le-Bherz for doing make-up over the 4 day shoot. 

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Showreel

Someone recently pointed out that it is the year 2020 and my two showreels present work from 2000-2009. The “stage” and “screen” showreels were beautifully edited by Jane Wallace in 2009. That was before I had made a lot of work including Hey Scenester, Slowdive, Video Set, and Flaunt, and not to mention long before having commenced dabbling with dance film and even more daunting: editing my choreography.

My first dance film “Pulse” in 2012, was filmed with hand held DSLRs, thanks to Jane Wallace and my brother (filmmaker) Grant. Upon completion of the shoot, they informed me that it was time for me to learn to edit my own work. I was initially reluctant, however they patiently mentored me through editing Pulse. I had some struggles as it was engrained from years of making and seeing dance for the stage to want to frame the whole body, so learning to use mid-shots and close-ups took time. With more practice I eventually realised what an important tool editing was; not just for the sake of editing, but as an additional layer to the choreography.

As a choreographic tool, editing has changed processes by how I choreograph live work. When piecing work together, rehearsals are recorded and dropped into a time-line, replacing old forms of using Post-it notes!

My understanding of a showreel is to promote work and highlight the best parts. However, in making a showreel sometimes the editing drives a new story, carving micro narratives and, for dance, how the movement connects is an important factor. Each snippet of dance when cut together from various works (as existing stories) then essentially forms a ‘new dance’ in the edit with the music and cinematic elements all suggesting some sort of meaning or evoking emotion.

Needing to update my 2009 showreels, I assessed footage and decided to make a few showreels around the categories of my work as these have different audiences/ functions/ aesthetics.

Editing the dance film projects saw two different 5-minute reels emerge.

Dance film reel version 1:

Dance film reel version 2



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Shift (dance film) Part 1

As the creative output of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, I am making a series of experimental dance films.

One of the many things I love about doing my masters at the VCA is that I am exploring ideas I would not otherwise consider. Having the opportunity to experiment has seen the birth of new ideas and new creative processes. “Shift” is the second of my dance film projects as a part of my MFA.

Richard Causer and Lucy Hood

It was great to be reuniting to work again with dancer Richard Causer, and cinematographer Kevin Holloway.

Lucy Hood was someone I had not worked with before, but she was a delight.

The idea was to film as much of the duet in as many locations that we had permission to. Rehearsals saw excursions to locations to test and adapt the choreography to the locations.

Following the 4-5 days of rehearsals we went straight into a 4 day shoot. Working with a small crew meant working quickly. Over 4 days, we filmed in 17 locations.

The budget was tight so I wrangled most locations in kind. It meant pulling favours from friends who were generous with the use of their homes and businesses.

In some locations where we were permitted to film, we could not gain exclusive access, so four awesome young humans helped us hog the playground!

One of my favourite locations was Susan and Chris’s 1950’s home. They were incredible hosts and we lunched together on set. Host(s) with the most! Left to right: Amelia Le-Bherz (make up artist) Chris, Susan, Kevin, Lucy, Richard.

A section of choreography was adapted to their incredible pool.

Another location was Phase 4 Records and Cassettes. It’s one of my favourite record bars in Brisbane. Business owner and music gurus Julie and Donat were so kind letting us carve up the choreography at their store.

A long time student, Kirrah was having her 19th Birthday the weekend of the shoot. Her family have been long time supporters of dance and have been so kind to me over the years. I thought that a birthday scene might be an option and Kirrah’s family were fine with us crashing Kirrah’s 19th. I don’t think Kirrah even knew we were rehearsing there. Older sister Sabrina had been so helpful in all the organising.

Mrs Jobst made the dancers a coffee between rehearsals at her house.

My Friends Steph and Dave were so kind to let us film at their house. Unfortunately, the chandelier didn’t last the entire shoot….

The four days of filming went well (sans chandelier incident)
The next step is editing… I have no idea how this is going to turn out. Embracing experimenting!

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Test Pressing Project 2: Silt (dance film) Montages

Somber Edit
Clunk and Disco edit

Cast: Maddison Campbell, Kirrah Jobst, Amelia Le-Bherz, Paige Rasmussen.
Choreographer/ Producer/ Editor: Claire Marshall 
Cinematographer: Kevin Holloway. 

Silt was created for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming. The four enthusiastic student dancers worked with Claire Marshall to extend dance experiences at a pre-professional level. The full version of Silt is 10-minutes and premiered in Brisbane in December 2019.

Resembling a music video narrative where the cut-a-way moments create the narrative and the dance phrases are the “performance”, this more abstract dance film “Silt” is entered around four characters who find escape in a quaint little beach in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. The beach situated on the edge of the Brisbane river sees many people pass by, as well as vehicles zoom over the large structure of a bridge above. However, for the characters, it’s a place they connect as people continue to pass by going about their busy lives. Juxtaposed to this sense of freedom and escape, their movement output is deliberate clunky and hard, resonating their surroundings.

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‘Splat’ Screendance experiment

As a part of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the VCA, ‘Splat’ is a dancefilm experiment with just one key action repeated identically in a number of locations, with different cutting techniques. 

Through a repeated ‘fixed’ movement, the variables of location and editing set up a frame work for the considerations of meaning making around a fixed movement. 

The idea was to remove ‘dancing’ from the equation in order to negate any chance for the body/ dancer/ movement of the human to lead the meaning. Rather, by keeping the movement identical in every take, I investigated how meaning of the movement is constructed when situated in various locations and repeated through editing. While even one gesture might have various connotations, if the movement is the same every time, it creates a more fixed ground for critique.

Here are some stills from this project:

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VCA part 1

MFA (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts

In 2006 I commenced Masters at QUT. To be honest, I think I commenced Masters because I was invited to study not because I genuinely wanted to. Looking back, my heart was in my creative practice and in 2006 and 2007 I had a lot of music video jobs coming my way and my priority was making work. I simply was not ready to reflect on my creative practice or to dive into serious research. 

At the time I was investigating the schism between contemporary dance and commercial dance. Looking back I am glad I did not waste 18 months on this because it is not something I am not interested in now. I often hear people contemplating getting a tattoo and hear people advise them in response “don’t get one until you know what you really want”. I think this is a great analogy for research: you really need to be certain that you want to research because once the written exegesis is published, it exists forever. While I don’t have any tattoos the idea of an exegesis had come back to my mind 12 years later.

Without question, what I was most interested in was dance film. After making Ward of State, I didn’t want to go and churn out another film using the same formula and I felt that it was necessary to extend my skills and immerse myself in research before making too many more dance films.

I spent time looking at where I could study and without a doubt the Victorian College of the Arts was where I needed to study.

This is the pathway to the dance department at the VCA.

After researching VCA staff , and the courses at the VCA, I made a number of visits to the VCA, seeing work of their undergraduates and graduate courses. I also arranged a meeting with Helen Herbertson who was the head of research at the VCA at the time.

The rich history of dance at the VCA is evident just stepping onto campus. The dance studios are covered in photos of previous student performances as well as head shots of the lineage of the Head of Dance since the inception of the course in 1978. While I waited for the meeting with Helen Herbertson, choreographer Gideon Obarzanek was taking a break while choreographing on the students and he very kindly showed me through the dance building. I was pinching myself as one of my idols showed me the studios.

The meeting with the legendary Helen Herbertson was wonderful. The dance nostalgia in her office was a reminder of her stature and legacy in dance and I felt in awe to be sitting there talking with her. Helen spoke about study at the VCA explained all the nuts and bolts of the course and I left feeling absolutely certain that the VCA was where I wanted to do my postgraduate study.

Like most things that I think are beyond my means, I usually try to forget about the application once I have made the submission. It was a wonderful surprise to have an interview that occurred via Skype with Helen and Dr Sandra Parker. A few weeks following the interview I was notified that I had been accepted to study a Master of Fine Arts (Dance) in the form of 50% creative output and 50% written exegesis. It was a moment that I will never forget.

Commencing study has been invigorating and I am certain that I am where I need to be for my research. Unrelated to my study, I also love Melbourne weather!

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Test Pressing Project 2: Silt (dance film)

Youth Dance project ‘Silt’ was created by Claire Marshall in 2018 for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming. The four enthusiastic dancers worked with Claire in her Test Pressing Project Group which was created to extend dance experiences for enthusiastic students, and provide experience outside the traditional realm of dance. The group comprised of two students were first year QUT dance performance students, one student who had recently graduated QUT, and one who had just finished high school. These four women worked with Claire in 2017 and in 2018 were keen for to work on a dance film project with Claire.

The abstract piece is created around four characters who find escape in a quaint little beach in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. The cut-a-way moments create the narrative and the dance phrases existed as moments of connection in the performance.

The Captain Bourke park (beach) situated on the edge of the Brisbane river sees many people pass by, as well as vehicles zoom over the large structure of a bridge above. However, for the characters, it’s a place they connect as people continue to pass by going about their busy lives. Juxtaposed to this sense of freedom and escape, their movement output is deliberate clunky and hard, resonating their surroundings.

Silt was created for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming in late 2018.

The four enthusiastic dancers worked with Claire in the Test Pressing Project Group which was created to extend dance experiences for older students who were seeking experiences beyond eisteddfods and dance school recitals.

Yes, they got their feet wet. There was a section of choreography where the dancers were required to roll forward. However translating that to the location, meant rolling uphill. The dancers all shot each other a knowing glance before Claire said, “Ok, we are going to roll the other way: down the slope”. When they got to the edge of the water, Claire said “Keep going”. Keep going. Keep going”. They did.

Every dancefilm seems to have something rugged to contend with. For Silt it was dancing on sand, dancing in mud, and rolling into the Brisbane River.

Choreographed by Claire Marshall (2018) 
Cast: Maddison Campbell, Kirrah Jobst, Amelia Le-Bherz, Paige Rasmussen.
Cinematographer: Kevin Holloway 

Stills from frame:

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