JOY IN THE TIME OF COVID – Fine Line Dance Australia

JOY IN THE TIME OF COVID – Fine Line Dance Australia

Written by Katrina Rank, JOY director and producer and founder of Fine Lines

This afternoon many hours of work culminated in the final edit of JOY, a dance film with Fine Lines Dance. There’s more to go with audio description, but it is a milestone and I’m celebrating. It’s a moment where you say: ‘Thanks for all your feedback, friends, local audiences and dancers. Now it is time to say this part is finished.’

This work began with a call from Carol Brown in Wales asking Fine Lines Dance to collaborate on a project. The central premise focuses on works of art that gave us joy during COVID. Tystion Dance in Wales and Fine Lines Dance in Victoria exchanged ideas through text and images then used these as source material for a 10-minute film. We hope at some stage we can edit these two films together.

We began in June 2021 with Carol and I corresponding throughout. We shared structures and ideas. We commiserated on lockdowns and bouts of COVID experienced by cast and crew.  We discussed the importance of friends, family, art and nature that sustained us and our teams. We hoped to create something that honoured the shared stories of both sets of dancers.

My job as director was to facilitate responses to the source material, consult with local community and Fine Lines dancers and create a cohesive vision and framework for our film. I saw this project as an opportunity for all those involved to develop understanding and skills: a critical eye for film, understanding of framing and angle, of the editing process, building confidence in front of the camera and in having a say in how one’s body and image is represented on film. Fine Lines Dancers provided regular, detailed feedback, which significantly and positively impacted the final work.

My job as producer was to apply for grants (Australia Council for the Arts and City of Darebin – we were successful with the latter) to pay for venues, lights, camera and editing, and to book spaces, manage cast, crew and finances, and the other admin work which is time-consuming but essential to successful project management and making a film with creative individuals.

Fine Lines dancer, Shannon Parsons, edited the work with a dancer’s sensibility. The final film is the result of many hours sitting side by side in front of her computer screen, a true collaborative experience. The result is something that belongs to all of us – Tystion Dance, Fine Lines Dance, directors, editors and our community.

Thank you to the City of Darebin for the Community Arts Grant that made this work possible.

Jenny Barnett, founding member of Fine Lines Dance

Collaborating with a UK dance company? Oh yes! I was hugely delighted when we were invited to work with Tystion Dance in Wales. I’ve been a member of Fine Lines here in Melbourne since day one, nine years ago, but I became hooked on dance thanks to being part of the company that is now EncoreEast in Ipswich. It’s so good to link back, to remember one’s roots, particularly during the very unsettling time of a global pandemic.

What work of art has brought solace during COVID?  That provocation was easy for me.  I quickly selected a beautiful and simple poem “The Peace of Wild Things” by the American Wendell Berry.  We may be physically constrained, isolated and anxious yet our minds are free to roam.  I managed to smash my leg (not helpful for a dancer) early in 2021 and was even more restricted movement wise.  This poem took me out of my head, to the tranquillity of the natural world.

How wonderful it has been to work with my Melbourne dance buddies exploring Joy in the Time of Covid, each of us creating a personal movement response, exploring and improvising in groups and then creating this film.  For me it has been a celebration and assertion of many things: that I can always find a way of moving, despite physical challenges; that our Fine Lines collective is a lifeline for me; that no pandemic can crush human endeavour, connection and creativity.

Book your place at HOST