Dance On Film : The Diary Of A Movement Artist

VIDEO: Movement Diary No. 28 was shot in an abandoned kindergarten –  the sound of crunchy leaves adds an element of playfulness to this romantic autumn scenery 

“I’ve been trying to fit the movement diary production into my daily life, to take the camera out with me and shoot to reflect what I’m doing at that time”

At our latest Screen Social: MOVE event in Februarywe screened a number of Movement Diaries – directed by talented movement artist Masumi Saito & filmmaker Guy Wigmore.  Movement Diaries is a series of experimental dance shorts capturing the London-Japan based artist’s daily life through the eye of the camera. All films – including their fresh video release for Sentrys Station Crucial track- were filmed following strict rules: long, unbroken takes; no camera moves; no editing gimmicks; no effects. While Guy & Masumi spend some time in Japan filming, we had the chance to talk to them about their project and Masumi’s dancing inspirations. Here’s the interview with the creators behind this authentic project:

‘Movement Diary’ is a really beautiful and original project. Tell us a bit about that…
Guy: It started off as a simple exercise to jump start our creative process after arriving in Japan but has worked out to be more than that. There are strict rules: one take, no edits, no choreography, 63 seconds of movement, six 4-second shots of detail from the location. I’m hoping that after a year or so we can use these videos as the basis for bigger work. In the meantime they’re showing us both new thoughts and ideas about how we can work together. Also, I shoot most of these with a baby strapped to my back.

Masumi: I wanted to do something task-like, to force me to create. During this time in Japan I thought it was a perfect opportunity to do something throughout the year, to record the year through movement. I’ve been trying to fit the movement diary production into my daily life, to take the camera out with me and shoot to reflect what I’m doing at that time. The movement also reflects this, showing how I feel on that day, both physically and mentally; how’s the weather, what else is happening in my life.

The locations are chosen to make interesting images each time, so the collection of films is like looking through a photo album. It’s important to keep making, at least once a week. After a year we’re hoping to put something larger together using this material.

Where did you & Guy meet?
M: We both lived in London and met through a video project.

How old were you when you started dancing?
M: When I was 3 I saw a leaflet come through the door from the local ballet school and I asked to go. Apparently I started to dance on the first lesson. The same teacher taught me for 15 years and we still keep in touch. She continuously teaches me that technique is not important, but to be myself is what is needed to be a good dancer who can tell a story. 

VIDEO: In Movement Diary No. 22 – Masumi’s delicate dancing is well planned and coordinated with the aerial movement of the fabric. Artist, Xiaoli created the installation for this one. The short was screened at Screen Social: MOVE.

What do you love about dancing & movement?
M: It’s not love or hate, it’s natural for everybody , it’s not a choice. I’m lucky that it’s become my means of expression and has given me so many opportunities.  

Would you define yourself more like a dancer or a movement artist? Do you believe there’s a difference?
M: I prefer to describe myself as a movement artist just because ‘Dancer’ is often received differently by different people. Some people may think I dance in a ballet, others on a cruise ship or at Disneyland. I’ve struggled to find a way to describe what I am or what I do and I think movement artist is the most appropriate term, but that might change.

Who is your favourite artist?
M: There are many that inspire me in many different fields. I’ve recently finished reading Yayoi Kusama’s book ‘Fight’, it gave me courage and inspired me to be true to myself. It  encouraged me to create work I believe in.

What is you favourite kind of music to dance to?
M: Both Guy and I listen to a wide range of different music. This is an impossible question to answer, music can be and do so many different things, one song may mean so much to you but nothing to me. So I would say any genre of music that affects my emotions. 

Do you have any other projects lined-up?
G: Masumi has 2 performances before we go back. We don’t have much time left in Japan and are trying to cram in as much work as possible and really this time in Japan in like a project as well. We’re trying to soak it all in to come back to the UK and give the Movement Diary project some wings.

MUSIC VIDEO: ‘Sentry – Station Crucial’ – directed by Wigmore & Saito for geographically ambiguous artist, Sentry – in collaboration with record label Proto Sites. Aside from the intro & outro the video is built around unbroken takes of movement 8 bars long with detail shots during the 3 beat-less sections. There are no effects save for a couple of instances of reversed motion. Guy tried to keep the colour correction as natural as possible whilst still taking care of the bright autumn colours.