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David Bower have set up a youtube channel / 17 September 2009

Signdance Collective 'signs of Brilliance' Time Out

SDC at Warehouse Theatre July o9

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I have just sent off the first off-line version of a film project that SDC have been working on. The great news is that SDC has its own channel on YouTube.

There are currently four films on the site. 'Listen' - prepared by SDC music director Luke Barlow -Travelling and 'Here', are part of our latest production, 'Dances for a Lost Traveller'. The third - 'Firesigns' - is the result of an on-going collaboration with several Dutch artists.

Joke Mennsink, director of ’Voor TV’ has been a long term associate and adviser of SDC. He established one of the earliest modern disability arts performance groups in the world, called 'Diagonnal.' Joke introduced us to her circle of friends a number of years ago, one of whom is a rock n’ roll star called Frederique Spight.

Frederique was inspired by a very beguiling deaf person which led to a series of signed concert tours as a tribute to this enigmatic deaf beauty. Unfortunately she felt cheated as she couldn’t sign. (Hey! Deaf can be beautiful too, you know!).

The concerts were signed by an international sign-language interpreter called Mindy Brown. Mindy had already worked with the likes of Bowie, Madonna and had bought her experience to bear on this project. It was an amazing experience to have had the opportunity to create a piece of film in the lyrical-formalist tradition of three incredibly powerful and charismatic women. The third of whom is Isolte Avila my long term partner and associate at SDC.

SDC was approached by Joke, with a project to capture a Frederique Spight concert on film, for commercial release on DvD. We wanted to target Deaf people. Our aim was to capture the concert so that the sign-language interpretation was integral, rather than confined to a box in the corner - in the concessionary sense.

As we worked on this, my thoughts quickly turned to the idea of making a short film. Mindy dug the idea and contacted SDC about being a producer for it. The film was shot on location in Den Haag - the capital of Holland, which is also the base for Mindy’s company Talking Hands. she set the company up with Gerdinand Wagenaar (Jerry), who is also an international sign-language interpreter.

Jerry’s role was as a sign-language advisor to Mindy. He is a member of CODA (children of deaf adults). In fact his first language is sign-language, so his sign-language skills are impeccable. He has become one of the worlds foremost exponents of Deaf culture, interpreting at crucial events such as the European parliament and the United Nations.

The concept behind Firesigns was to convey a poetical, visual presentation of abstract human imagery. The light was important to create the right mood. By playing with the exposure, I aimed to try and create the same world as ours - but somehow different - heightening reality so that it becomes hyper-real.

The initial editing process was undertaken at the end of August 2009, on Joke’s barge in Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful place to work, and Joke is so enlightened about disability and has no end of wisdom pertaining to disability art and expression. So it was an absolute pleasure to be able to collaborate with her during that week.

You know how sometimes its psychologically challenging to work alongside individuals who can’t escape the medical model, know matter how sincere they are. It impairs the artistic process with unnecessary intellectual baggage. Joke is refreshingly free of all of that. She was so encouraging, constantly guiding my learning process in editing skills and pointing me in the right direction computer-wise. I will be going again to work with her, and this time it will be to complete the film, as a studio on-line (finished) version.

The version that’s on You Tube is a preview off-line version that I have worked on here in North Carolina. We are currently at 'Urban Warrior', where we have unlimited access to a fantastic Dojo (studio). We are taking the opportunity to fine tune our performance pieces, as well as carrying out an administrative brainstorm. It's needed at the moment as the challenges that the SDC face are huge. we are quite nervous but also quietly confident that all that is needed is a little focus and patience.

Please check out the film on You Tube, also watch out for the finished version due at the beginning of 2010.

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