Digital Dance in the Inland Empire
by Rachel Holdt
This past week, the dance department at Mt. San Jacinto College hosted a Dance for Camera screening on campus. This showing was offered for viewing not only to the students, but also to the local community and, as such, was well attended.
Dance for Camera explores experimental movement for screen, and is specifically designed to delve into the capabilities that are available through film. Although all four films shown were of exceptional quality, I was able to interview the creator of the pre-screening clip that was being looped upon arrival at the screening room. Rosie Trump, a former associate faculty at the Mt. San Jacinto College was willing to share some of her creative inspiration and personal insight into the piece entitled, “…about the house…”
Much of Trump’s works center around a single woman, and this piece did just that. Unbeknownst to me as I entered the screening room on the Menifee campus, it was not clear that this film was being looped. Originally a twenty minute piece, the clip being shown was only a few minutes long. Because of the unique way in which it was filmed, with several concurrent scenes happening on split screen and abrupt scene changes, the looping was almost an addition to this effect. The connections between loops stood out as a very intentional disconnect while intensifying the overall peculiarity of the film and the sense of duality—which is a Rosie Trump signature.
The film began with a single female inside an older house. The camera captures a few outside shots of the front lawn, fence, and porch rocker. The soundscape is inclusive of daily noises such as a lawn mower, and the rocking chair on the porch swaying back and forth with the breeze. The young woman opens and closes the door a few times as though dancing a duet with the doorway. An abrupt scene change takes the woman into the kitchen where she lays down sideways on the kitchen table and pedals her feet as though riding a bike. In yet another sudden scene change, the split screen captures two tea kettles on the stove. Opposite this shot is the female standing in front of the fireplace peering into a long mirror on the mantle. Dishes and silverware sounds are heard as the only sound in this scene. The next scene finds the female sitting on a chair in front of the fireplace speaking directly to the camera person about a purse while a cat plays on the mantle behind her.
The film captured a lot of imagery and symbolism, which, in a nod to Rosie Trump’s style, was very intentional. Avoiding any typical choreography, Trump prefers, “movement with the choreography of the camera.” Trump also likes intentionally “forcing the audience to choose” what to watch by her use of split screen and multiplicity on the screen. In this work, Trumps whimsical and very unique perspective by using the camera as a voice in dance is clear. With every element of the film intentionally peculiar, Trumps purpose to create that “nagging sensation of daily living”, and to link the very private space of a home with the outside world is certainly seen through her very inimitable portrayal of dance in this film.