Danse Serpentine

As some of you may or may not know, I recently enrolled in the Film and Video Communication program at Seattle Central Community College. Classes started a few days ago, and the material began with a History of Film course to help show us the foundation of modern day cinema. After discussing some of the roots of film, we then watched a video on the pioneering Lumiere brothers of France, who in the late 1800’s not only invented a camera that could record live action, but also develop the film and project it in one self-contained unit! (Impressive, especially when one considers that I can barely walk and chew gum without tripping). The brothers went around the world documenting different people in their environment 50 seconds at a time (that was the longest amount of recording time their film strips provided). While watching the clip, the segment entitled “Danse Serpentine” stood out to me the most for its simplicity and its beauty. Filmed in 1899, the video shows a dancer performing in a flowing dress, which seems to magically change colors as she twirls around on stage. The color effect was added on by hand, frame by frame, after the film was developed. The technique may be basic, but its effect is profound. After watching it a couple of times, I still find it hard to believe that something so visually engaging and unique could have been made over 100 years ago.

This one, performed by Loie Fuller and filmed by Thomas Edison, is pretty cool too.

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One response to “Danse Serpentine

  1. Serpentine Dance: fascinating imagery. Reminds me most of underwater video of veiled marine phantasmagoria or slow-mo nature photography of growing plants or the passage of clouds. Visually conveys the meaning of the word “emergence.”

    Reason for email: I stopped by The Woolly yesterday and misssed you. Could you please order me a pair of Earth “Classic” sandstone shoes, 10.5?

    Uncle Steve

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