Dancing to the rhythm of the music: Norman McLaren and the performing body

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Abstract

On Begone Dull Care: “Thus, the knife-point was made to slide and move on the surface of the film; my hand pressed, guided, and, as it were, made to ‘dance’ to the rhythm of the music.” (McLaren 1949, p.6)

Scottish-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren’s work is bound by the notion of performance; he described his own animation process in those terms, while using performance as both subject and animated object. He is well known for his creation of ‘animated music’ using his cameraless animation techniques, while also combining his love of dance to create innovative abstract films. Building on previous research and forming part of a larger project on McLaren’s legacy, this paper will examine in two halves McLaren’s interest in the movement of the body. The first will look at his use of the body indirectly by using the physical body as an animation tool for stop motion, with the second examining how the body connects to performance directly by filming dance performances. By considering key texts including Neighbours (1952), A Chairy Tale (1957), Pas de Deux (1968), and Narcisuss (1983), I will consider the extent to which McLaren’s work did indeed contribute to “a new genre of filmic ballet and mime” (McLaren 1952, p. 84).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalAnimation Studies
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2015

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