A spacious restaurant filled with 60 people. They're eating, drinking and are having fun. At least, it seems that way.
Talking and laughing doesn't have to mean that it's a case of mutual attention and interest in eachother. Attention can disappear without a trace. A conversation can be done on automatic pilot. There seemingly is contact on the surface. How sincere this contact is hardly matters, because we are human and therefore we are social. Social people enjoy listening and are interested.
But are they really?
Amongst a crowd of people enjoying their meals, eight dancers sink away in their own thoughts. They accept the boredom and distractions and release themselves from the unspoken rules of normal behaviour. Without any shame the dancers accept curiousity, whether it is there or not, and the body is allowed to break free from any form of etiquette. No rules, no reflection.
Actions without any influence from social expectations will lead to total freedom.
But do they really?
At the base for this film is a choreography made by Jonne Covers in collaboration with composer Tom Hermens. That performance was the result of a study about the physical form of distractions and sinking away in your own thoughts during a social get together.
'I often find myself in social situations where I don't really feel a connection between me and another person. It can be that I detect the other person driftig off during our conversation or that I'm only busy with what I am doing. This bothers me, but at the same time it inspires me as well. What does a conversation in which I only half participate offer me? And what is the use of only pretending to be engaged in said conversation? If I could just accept that I'm not interested, instead of resisting that feeling and just be bothered with myself, wouldn't that lead to true and interesting contact? If only I could let go of the notion that I have to listen when I'm not listening at all. No more rules, just honesty. That would be it. Or does that mean, that I wouldn't be social anymore?' (Jonne)
It turned out to be a topic that has a direct connection to the body. Surrendering to boredom, distractions and sinking away in your own thoughts lead automatically to movements, which made it easy to translate to dance. But just a performance wasn't enough for Jonne. She took a filmed registration of the performance to filmmaker and director Ivo van Aart, who got excited about the material and its themes. Ivo saw a lot of potential in the performance and thought of a way to deepen the material. With a fixed distance between the dancers and the audience, he missed the possibility to zoom in on the dancers. Which given the themes of the performance is an aspect of utmost importance. Distractions sometimes show through little movements. These movements got lost in the masses. Furthermore it was impossible to influence the passing of time during this live setting, whilst the perception of time is malleable in social situations.
Dance just wasn't enough to get to the heart of this subject.
It needed film.
And a director.
Jonne Covers (choreographer), Ivo van Aart (director), Floris Verweij (D.o.P.), Tom Hermens (composer), Sam Huisman (sound designer) and Rob IJpelaar (production) combine in Amuse their disciplines and visions to create something new: dance film.
All of the cast and crew works on Amuse voluntarily. But there are other costs involved related to the materials we want to work with and which define the existence of our film (location, camera, lights, sound, etc.). So if you haven't drifted off yet...
...We are more than ready to begin with this film, but we can't do it without your help!
Photography by Danielle Corbijn