BODYART Dance Company shines on the JOMBA! Legacy Platform (Photograph Supplied)

BODYART Shines on stage and screen

By Kayla Wilson

The Digital JOMBA! Legacy Programme celebrates dance makers that have had a significant impact on making JOMBA! thrive over the past 21 years. One dance maker being celebrated this year is Leslie Scott with BODYART Dance Company, a New Orleans-based dance company established in 2006.

BODYART’s work is displayed via a series of live streamed performances previously created for both stage and screen.

Legal Canvas (2017), created for the screen, is a culmination of dance and graffiti art. A Graffiti artist: Beautify Earth, creates a mural behind dancers Jonathan Bryant, Kayla Johnson and Heather Raburn whilst they effortlessly weave through a series of strategic and weight bearing movements, connecting together like a chain, signifying the meshing of the two art forms. Within their movement there’s strategic use of the surrounding building, allowing it to become almost like a 4th dancer within the piece. The duality of the calming and chaotic energies displayed by the dancers strongly suggests that as artists, the world is our canvas.

Afternoon Gold (2018), a solo featuring Rachel Abrahams, seemingly explores nature in various outdoor settings; the combination of flowing movements and rigid lines seem to represent an appreciation for nature and highlights an exploration of space from Abrahams. She displays an identifiable change in dynamics when comparing movements displayed in built up settings in comparison to the natural forests or rivers also seen in the video. The juxtaposition of mimicking not only the stern lines and harsh architectures but also the calmness and fluidity when at one with nature is painted side by side. Scott and Abrahams have managed to capture the nostalgic feeling of being able to create art in beautiful spaces, a feeling long since felt for many dancers.

In contrast to the above two screen works, Re/Stage (2012) is set inside what appears to be an abandoned cinema with dancers dressed in 90s-esque gowns. Despite this piece being set inside there is still an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the space the dancers are performing in. Dancers show great admiration for the beauty of the space, highlighting elements of the site’s architecture within their movements as they move elegantly through the space.

Water Story (2019) and THREAD (2014), both directed for ‘the stage’, by Scott, individually create the sense of an ‘outdoor’ space indoors. With the excellent use of lighting and sound in both of these pieces the audience is instantly transported, yet fixated on the use of audio-visual and embodied imagery alongside shapes and angular movement from both the dancers and the set. This is Scott’s expertise in both photography and producing dance coming in to play.

Throughout the five works, Scott has managed to portray a resounding sense of appreciation for space and highlights the importance of working with the space in order to create work and does this so in both complementary and contrasting manners.

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