Uniquely other: Back to Zero

 In Lens on Screendance

Whether screened on film or experienced live (although granted the latter is a rare occurrence these days), I am always interested in dance projects that invite viewers, without specific expectations or design, to see dance in new ways.  Because human beings are hardwired to search for story and meaning, it has become way too easy to create dance films and films in general, that exploit visual set pieces, music, subjects, or subject matter to manipulate viewers into having an obvious and desired emotional response. For me, dance is most interesting, generous, and true when it invites viewers to simply feel whatever they might feel without manipulation.

Such a work for me is Back to Zero by filmmaker Rain Kencana. I first encountered this film two years ago when it was submitted to, and subsequently awarded an honorable mention for Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival: Round 3 – of which (full disclosure) I am Founder/Director.  From the first moment onwards, Back to Zero subverts gravity, tricks the eye, and uses hair as an element of camouflage. I love the way the choreography, paired with great framing in camera and the director’s totally unique eye, highlights small gestures to become striking visual moments.  An ordinary field of tall grass, an underground parking structure, or the backdrop of high-rise office buildings all become extraordinary by the marriage of movement, camera, editing, and music.

Director Rain Kencana was born in Jakarta, Indonesia but moved to and subsequently studied in Berlin where she currently works as an editor for both music videos and commercials. Clearly, she is an equally gifted filmmaker as well. Back to Zero features choreography by Amigo Kadir Memis, cinematography by Moritz Carstens, wonderful costume design by Jale Kustaloglu, music by Milian Vogel, is danced by Claudia Iglesias Ungo, Diego de la Rosa, and Juan Tirado, and was produced by Manon Lemoine.

As a screen dance work, Back to Zero is its own unique entity: odd, open-ended, and generously absent of any apparent plot or emotional intention. This allows it to be pieced together, felt, and/or interpreted any which way the viewer wishes. It transcends form and structure to become something uniquely other, without a specific destination, yet distinctly more than the sum of its parts.

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