Vivid Waltz set to challenge representation of ballet Reply

by Sarah Chlala

Images from Vivid Waltz, an animated installation by Jacqueline Livermore. Photographs: Sarah Chlala

Images from Vivid Waltz, an animated installation by Jacqueline Livermore.
Photographs: Sarah Chlala

From preliminary watercolours  to an animated ballet installation, Vivid Waltz is a unique and non-traditional way of representing ballet. It utilises a sequence of hand-painted works to portray the movements of a ballet dancer.

Director of Vivid Waltz Jacqueline Livermore, a Media Arts & Production student at UTS, says, “I’ve always been interested in non-traditional versus traditional. Vivid Waltz takes an old art form, combines it with new ones like animation and installation, and creates a totally new way of representing feeling and movement.

“I am not the audience for skateboarding, but I was inspired by Matt Box’s Acid Drops. When I watched his video, I was mesmerised by the way he used fluid watercolour paint to capture skateboarding. I wanted to replicate his technique so that’s when I started looking into ballet and that’s where my whole concept started,” she says.

What followed was the challenge of applying her ideas. She says she wanted to communicate the grace and vitality of the dancer’s movement to the audience through a projection screen.

“The dance lasts for a minute and can be viewed via loop. I painted 800 paintings. A usual video is 24 frames per second. But I made it 12 frames per second because 12 frames per second is the minimum you need to deceive the human eye that you are seeing movement. So I chose the minimum amount of frames and painted 12 frames for every second of video,” Jacqueline says.

Fellow student Natalia Newling, who is the editor of Vivid Waltz, says, “An interesting thing about the installation is that you can see all the brush strokes and you can tell that Jacqueline has painted every single one by hand. It really resonates.”

Jacqueline believes her approach is unique to the world of ballet.

“I want to take this animation far beyond a mere video of a dancer. I want to create a space whereby the audience becomes intimate with the paintings, movement and music surrounding them. A production like The Nut Cracker is focused on technique and storyline. Vivid Waltz is focused on the representation of ballet and the way in which it is perceived. Even though many videos of ballet productions exist, my depiction is unique in its involvement of the audience and its expressive approach,” she says.

According to Natalia, what makes Vivid Waltz interesting is that Jacqueline has chosen to do it as an installation piece.

“It’s not a stop-motion video and that’s what separates it from other production projects. It’s the idea that you’re surrounded by this dancer and you really feel like she’s dancing around you. That’s what struck me as an exciting part of the project.”

Immersing the audience is high on Jacqueline’s list of priorities for Vivid Waltz. In the initial stages of planning, she says she consulted with students, teachers and producers and received an overwhelmingly negative response to her ideas. She says people weren’t keen on the ballet theme but seemed to light up when she mentioned that the audience would feel a sense of involvement by standing in the middle of a 580-centimetre wide semi-circle projection screen.

“People aren’t keen on the ballet but they’re keen on being involved in the ballet,” Jacqueline says.“I wanted to make audiences realise that ballet is not just high art and that it can be accessible. I wanted to find a new way of representing ballet,” she says.

Natalia Newling says that while she doesn’t have any interest in ballet, she found that through editing the film and watching it over and over again, she began to find it technically interesting.”

The project, launched at UTS on November 15, has been a work in progress for Jacqueline Livermore for a year.

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