Monday teaser

Keep an eye out for our new dance film, Mondays. Director Robin Schmidt. Daily routine of waking up on a monday morning. The start of a new week. Awake, asleep, the mind wonders through the routine motions of getting ready for the day. Falling in and out of sleepwalking. 8 Days…till premiere.

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Wanted; 10 strong contemporary dancers


Looking for 10 strong contemporary dancers male/female for a music video.
Director; Robin Schmidt
Choreography; Sarah Linstra

Shoot will be in London around  the end of Jan+full day rehearsal (but TBC). Paid, fee tbc. If interested and available please send an email with photo+measurements to Sarah at
We are looking for contemporary dancers that can pick up choreography quick and precise.
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Hollywood does dance pt.2….

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!

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Cinedans 2010

For the 8th edition this year, the only Dutch dance film festival. Showing dance films, dance on screen, installations, visual multimedia performances and more Cinedans Festival is the centre of dance on film.  From the 9th-12th December in Amsterdam, Holland:

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A little blast from the past…

As the snow is falling down and covers London in a thick layer of white powder, all the trains are cancelled and delayed, the airports are closing down, midwives are taxied to the hospital in tractors and the people in Scotland can’t buy bread I snuggled up on the sofa on my day off. Heating on, cat wrapped up beside me cuppa tea on the table and some old DVD’s in the dvd player. It’s that time when you go through old stuff like photos and videos and look back on what you’ve done so far.

One of those I’d like to share with you is dance company Leine&Roebana based in Amsterdam. I worked with Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana as an apprentice and then became a freelance company member in several productions before moving to the UK in 2006. Two of the productions I was in, I found online (on this cold winter day) and I just have to share with you. I hadn’t seen it myself for a while and I just got so excited I had to post in on my blog and say; Thank you and I miss you to my lovely dance friends in The Dam.

A short blog post just to share a little blast from the past.

Please enjoy excerpts of TERTS  and BALLADS by Leine&Roebana.

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Learn from Jackie!

As a filmmaker I’ve become completely obsessed with dance. Sarah has shown me a world of meaning and emotion that lives completely separate from the spoken word and that really excites me. Cinema is at its most powerful when we draw meaning and emotion from what’s not said. Dialogue works best when it hides a subtext and there’s an incredible power on display when a great actor displays their innermost thoughts in their performance so we absolutely get it out, without ever being told.

It’s become a bit of a fascination for me, from making my own films to watching theatrical performances and picking apart others’ dance films. I’ve also become hugely interested in martial arts on camera because they too involve a huge amount of choreography and precision of camerawork. In fact many dance films I’ve seen would benefit hugely from drawing lessons from the work of the great masters like Jackie Chan.

The great dilemma for a filmmaker in shooting dance is in deciding what to actually frame. Dance necessarily involves the whole body on stage but that suddenly causes a filmmaker problems. One of our most powerful weapons is the closeup. But that necessarily means leaving most of the body out of shot.

One of the other great tools at our disposal is the moving camera. We can literally dance with the artist. When this is done well it is absolutely mesmerising. By all accounts the dancing sequences in Black Swan are a triumph, mainly due to the director, Darren Aronofsky, placing his camera in the centre of the action, as a participant and not as an observer. We could spend a whole day talking about the difference between objective and subjective cameras, but for me, the main reason for putting dance on camera is to make use of all the tools that film gives us that traditional stage work cannot. The subjective camera, becoming part of the piece is one of those tools, and incredibly powerful it is too.

So, if you’re planning to shoot dance, or any action and movement, it’s always worth putting a different kind of head on, don’t just film it, take your viewer into it. We want to be there, genuinely. Jackie knows best after all!

SUKA – a dance film from Robin Schmidt on Vimeo.

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Things you HAVE TO see…

Christmas time is coming up and the theatre’s are filling up with season audiences. With so many dance shows, opera’s, theatre productions, exhibitions, films and musicals it’s sometimes hard to know where to go. You don’t want to miss that show that everyone talks about.

So here it is, an opportunity to share your HAVE TO see show this season!!!

Two of my HAVE TO see this season;

Jasmin Vardimon – 7734 at Sadlers Wells next week! Jasmin Vardimon is one of my favorite choreographers. Not only is her choreography stunning she always manages to come up with the most amazing visuals. New, innovative, fresh, human and confronting. Go see it!

Faeries – Will Tuckett at ROH in December! Just because you HAVE TO go and see a show at the Royal Opera House with Christmas. It’s the most wonderful combination of dance and puppets. Magic christmas faerie land and child friendly so a good family evening out!

Let me know what YOU think people HAVE TO see this season and leave a link of your choice of  show/performance+the reason why you think people HAVE TO go and see it, in the comment box below.

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The knitting dance

Dance is my hobby, my life, my passion, my drive so I don’t often get the question; “Do you have any hobbies?”. The answer is; “When I don’t dance, I knit.” Although I don’t have much time off, a hobby I have. And the funny thing is, it’s almost like dancing. I’m learning new patterns and techniques all the time.

What do you do with all that stuff you knitted? One person only needs so many scarves and gloves….true that. And so I decided to set up my own label and sell handmade knitwear. I now have expanded my range; scarves, snoods, hats, gloves, mittens and baby blankets handmade and each unique.

The collection of snoods and scarves are on sale now and have a look at them at the photos below. For purchasing handmade knitwear or more information please contact Sarah Linstra at or leave a request/reply in the comment box below this post.

(Unfortunately most of the snoods and scarves below have now been sold. But don’t you worry new collection photos are coming soon! Including a new collection of beanies, hats (with pompoms) and fingerless gloves!)

Become a Handmade Knitwear Facebook Page friend and stay up to date on new yarns, designs and other haberdashery like crocheted blankets and new chunky snoods!

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Hollywood does dance pt.1…

Kevin Bacon swinging in Footloose

A new wave of  films has taken over Hollywood. Dance film. After the all the old classics such as Footloose, Flashdance, Grease, Showgirls, Dirty Dancing etc. we now have a new generation of Hollywood does dance. Films such as The Company, Save the last dance, Shall we dance? Step Up, Step Up2;the streets, Step Up in 3D. Unfortunately most of them have the same vibe and use the same dance styles; ballet, hip hop, streetdance or ballroom. All dance styles that the general public is quite familiar with, and dance styles with a show quality to sell to big audiences. And now a new one is coming out; the thriller ballerina story, Black Swan .  We have to be patient and wait to see this one because it will only come to the UK on 11 February 2011. Here’s the trailer;

More and more dance is used in the media. TV programs, films and music videos are all using this art form to enhance or create something spectacular. Just a shame that the dance styles used find themselves  in a bit of a battle or survival of the fittest. Which dance style is the most popular and sells the best and most?

Briana Evigan in Step Up's finger biting rain dance routine

Even though some artists try to use contemporary in their work “the contemporary” always seems to suffer somewhat in the process of making the commercial video sell. A lot of people seem to think contemporary needs a bit of commercial sexy-ness to sell and so it becomes a mix; commercial-contemporary. Hmmm…nothing wrong with that. I think, if cleverly done, it could be very exciting, but the question I then have is; can call it contemporary or is a new dance style invented?

I think we will have to wait and see if Hollywood does contemporary. To be continued.

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I value the arts!!

I Value the Arts Campaign – Background information

1. Who is running the campaign?

The National Campaign for the Arts (NCA). The NCA provides a voice for the arts world in all its diversity. It seeks to safeguard, promote and develop the arts and win public and political recognition for the importance of the arts as a key element in our national culture. The NCA receives no public funding and is financed through membership subscriptions and donations.

2. What is the campaign trying to achieve?

The campaign is trying to give a voice to people who value the arts in their community. We know there are a lot of them out there: it’s estimated that three-quarters of adults and even more children take part in the arts every year. Collectively they can be a powerful voice for audiences and participants.

3. Is the campaign all about fighting cuts?

The campaign is about empowering people to think about services in their communities and to support what they believe is in important to their communities. That support could be about volunteering or lobbying or even setting up their own programmes of arts activities. We’ve heard the Government messages about the ‘Big Society’ and we are encouraging those who care about the arts and culture to engage in the wider debate.

4. Is public money being used to support the campaign?

No. The NCA doesn’t receive public funding. This campaign has so far relied solely on the time and talent of individuals and organisations with small donations being made to cover costs such as website hosting. The major costs of website and database design and construction have been supplied pro bono by commercial organisations.

5. What do people get out of joining?

They’ll be part of a strong national voice of people who value the arts. They will receive useful information about plans for the arts nationally and in their local area with practical suggestions about how they can make a difference. We may also ask for their permission to seek their opinion when we want to undertake research for the arts.

6. How will it work?

Through capturing postcode information the campaign can send the most appropriate local information to signatories. Our database will be able to tell us which Local Authority people live in and how close they are to specific venues and organisations. The data will be held securely on the database (designed and built by one of the experts in holding arts data), and will not be used for anything else unless we have been given express permission.

For more information and to show you value the arts go the link here and show your support.

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