Music videos are something I have come to understand a little bit better in the past few years. My partner was a music video director for a while and through him I got to work on quite a few of them. Like the dance world there’s hardly ever any money or time and everyone knows each other so before you know it you’re working with several production companies.
Music videos have always used dance and in particular dance styles like contemporary. Sometimes I fail to understand why some of them do and what it adds to the video. Like I said in an earlier post about dance in music videos and dance in films, it’s a challenge to film dance and even the most talented film director sometimes gets it wrong….although wrong is maybe not the way to make my point. Everybody tries new things that sometimes work and sometimes do not work that well. You have to understand one thing with music videos, there is hardly any time, sometimes hardly any budget and they’re short term little projects to shoot and can have endless editing/post production time. So there is no time or space to work on choreography let alone work with the camera man and their choreography. The dance styles used in most music videos are spectacular and speak to everyone and is most of the time used in a simple way so that everybody will get it in a flash. Hip hop, pop, rock and dance videos have now turned more and more to contemporary dance to find a new way of expressing emotion and story in a music video.
(Or simply just because the artist used to dance a bit when young and wants to show their versatility….but quantity doesn’t mean quality!)
Cheryl Cole’s version of contemporary dance in her single 3 Words.
She tries over and over again. As beautiful as the videos may be, for me the point of using contemporary dance and really good contemporary dancers is just not coming through Miss Cole. Sorry! I know for a fact (because I know some of the dancers) that this video was on the verge of being a real contemporary dance piece. But all the work that went into the research and rehearsal was discarded on the day of the shoot when (and this is always a problem) there’s no time, a lot of wardrobe changes for the artist. Obviously Cheryl Cole is the main attention point and so the dance will suffer if you don’t give it what it needs. But Cheryl Cole loves dance and according to her has always has a feeling for this art form. And so she tries over and over again to bring that bit of her back in video not only can she (not) dance hip hop but she is a ballroom, ballet and contemporary dancer.
Cheryl Cole’s Promise This;
There are very different ways of using dance in a music video. One of which is making the dance and then making it into a music video in this case the dance is not a part of the video but IS the video. A perfect choreographed little piece of work and a very choreographed way of filming it. There’s not much left for the edit to play with but there is a very tight ‘story’ line all thought out before hand. Not sure if this next video from 1985 was a piece of work like that but it does show dance in a way that it’s not compromised by anything!
The old school way like Kate Bush in 1985, Running Up That Hill;
This next one is a video that I choreographed, using contemporary dance. It is not only what the video is about, but it was a big part of the ‘story’ if you like and choreographed in the mind of the director.
Delphic’s music video Halcyon by Dave Ma, Pulse Films.
As a choreographer I was given time to think about the idea of the video then given time to explore, research and choreograph work in the studio with the dancers and the director. Together we worked out some options and tweaked choreography and by the end of the day we had made a shotlist we were going to work through on the shoot. There were things he envisioned would work on camera with different shots and angles and so we mostly had a set path and choreography. But also set improvisation, in one style and atmosphere. The dancers were picked by the director and the producer with help from me and so I could see they really were looking for a style of moving rather then a ‘look’ which is great and isn’t always a given!
On the shoot day it was cold and raining and so we had to leave some bits out because we were loosing day light and were freezing in a hail storm but most of the pre-work we did in the studio was shot and looked amazing from what I could see on the monitor, when I wasn’t dancing myself. The thing I enjoyed the most working on this video was the dialog with the director. He had a very clear vision on what he wanted and as a choreographer who’s brought in on the project you kind of have to try and read someones mind to make sure you’re on the same line. But the director was also really good in giving responsibility and asking questions to me, the ‘expert’ in the dance side of the video. Although I am not sure what happened in the post production and there are some parts I miss in this edit of the video, I still think it’s turned into a pretty good contemporary dance music video if I may say so myself…
It was not the first time he used choreographed dance in his music videos. Another great little video from Dave Ma for the Foals Balloons.
Again using contemporary dance but in a more stylistic way is Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, her newest video. The dance is only a part of the visuals in this video. In my opinion a very very nice piece of work, dance and photography wise. By director Sam Brown, FLYNN productions. Dancer, Jennifer White.
It’s not set choreography but it has enough boundaries to work well on screen. One dancer with a stick in a small room covered in powder it’s a lot of stuff to work with. And I think because the dance in this video is, again, just a part of it the whole thing doesn’t lean to much on it. So it has space to breathe and you can really appreciate the other images as well.
Another one of those is, Bonobo Eyesdown. In this video it is not only the dance but the costume is so present that it is a big part of the dance and it very much determines the movement and atmosphere.
Kylie does it well and pretty much every time she nails it when using contemporary/’pop’ dance in her videos. The dance is a part of the videos and without it it just wouldn’t work. It’s choreographed and slick. Of course she does have amazing choreographers (like Rafael Bonachela) that do this for her and it helps she doesn’t have tight budget for her videos.
Kylie Minogue Can’t get you out of my head.
And of course her famous one Love At First Sight.
Music videos are short pieces of a lot of work and I never enjoyed watching them as much as I do now I know a little better what goes in to them. In a few weeks I will be working on a new music video and I can’t say too much but let’s say there’s going to be dancing!