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Loading Docs: Dancing In The Dark

Monday 20th July 2015

Loading Docs is a launching pad for New Zealand short documentaries which has just released 10 new films. We’ll be featuring each of the films and profiling the directors behind them. 

DIRECTOR PROFILE: ROWENA BAINES

Dancing in the Dark follows dancer Peter Vosper as he prepares to make his way to No Lights No Lycra on a Monday night.

Vosper slips into his self-designed glowing neon suit, and illuminating the dark streets with playful wiggles, he prances gleefully forward, towards a night of dancing.

The film is one of the five short documentaries that have been selected to premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Director Rowena Baines was inspired to make her short film after seeing last year’s Loading Docs. She found the perfect story to explore when she attempted to go to a session of No Lights No Lycra herself.

The events, which are held around the world, invite people to dance with the lights switched off. The aim has been to create a unique environment where people can enjoy music and movement in a way they can feel comfortable.

“Friends dragged me along and it was so packed [the organisers] closed the doors and said ‘sorry there’s no room’. They closed the door and we heard the music go off ... we thought, ‘we’re not going home’ so we just stayed and danced from the music coming through the door,” Baines says.

“When I saw everyone come out, they were so sweaty and elated, looked like they had lost a weight off their shoulders. It was at that moment I thought - something magical happens in there”.

For her film, Baines had a unique challenge of documenting dancing that takes place in a pitch black room.

When I saw everyone come out, they were so sweaty and elated, looked like they had lost a weight off their shoulders. It was at that moment I thought - something magical happens in there.

“I didn’t want to actually film what was happening inside, the idea is to try to create a sensation of the energy that’s in there rather than just turning the lights on and showing it, so that was my challenge.

“I’ll have to leave it up to the public to see if they come out with that feeling of a little bit of sensation of what it’s like in there,” she says.

Baines had been familiar, Vosper the main character in her doco, for a number of years before she approached him to be in her film.

“We’d often be at the same places but never had a proper conversation until I decided to make this film. It’s quite nice because it gives us a chance to meet properly, and get a window into his world, which is a really interesting world,” she says.

Vosper is a regular at No Lights No Lycra. In the video he shows off his unique neon dance costume in the film, something Baines felt helped him let loose.

“I think he felt really comfortable performing in his suit - [it] gives him an excuse to behave the way he want to behave that society doesn't allow him too,” she says.

“Once he saw [the rough cut] he got really excited that there would be some really beautiful footage of him and his art.”

Baines, who previously worked as a dance photographer, is passionate about making documentaries that captures the art of dance.

“It’s a natural part of self-expression. I’ve made a series of really different films, but they’re all promoting the positive effects of dance that it has on communities and people,” she says.

“I really like creative filmmaking - bringing that element of dance choreography into documentary is a beautiful mix.”

Story by Elizabeth Beattie.



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