Adam Roberts

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blue/yellow 1995

13 mins, 16mm, colour, 1.33:1

“One sees, or rather perceives Sylvie Guillem through an open door. Seeing and imagining become complementary activities. Very beautiful and very strong”. (“On y voit, ou plutaccôt on y aperçoit Sylvie Guillem dansant à travers l’ouverture d’une porte. Voir et imaginer deviennent deux attitudes complices. C’est très beau et très fort”). Le Nouvel Observateur, France 21.12.95

“...blue yellow... shot through a half opened door in a game of infinitely many framings. A beautiful work that does not confine itself to showing the body but also examines something that has always remained unthought of: that is, the relationship between dance and its televising”. (“... blue yellow... est ainsi filmée par l’entrebâillemnet d’une porte dans un jeu de cadrages infini. Du beau travail qui ne se contente pas d’enregistrer les corps, mais ausculte également ce qui resta longtemps du domaine de l’impensé: à savoir les rapport entre la danse et sa télévision”). Liberation, France 29.12.95

Sylvie Guillem, the celebrated ballerina, asked Jonathan Burrows and I to make a dance film. The film would be included in a prime time experiment to be called Evidentia, funded by BBC 2 and France 2. The film is called blue yellow after the Mattisse’s painting intérieur jaune et bleu, 1946. This colour scheme inspired my design and much of the pictorial composition.

Inevitably, being neither a dancer nor a choreographer, I felt rather removed from the choreographic process, and so decided that I should reflect this is the form of the film. I also wanted to consolidate ideas I had first tried out on a film called Very, where I had explored and made overt the very fragmentary nature of my untutored, subjective experience of dance. The aim would be to make it a task for a viewer of the film to imagine the space and the continuity of movement – so that the dance, if it exists at all, exists and is held in the mind of the viewer.

The filming took two days, and the editing about a week. Kevin Volans suggested using a section of one of his string quartets which we cut up an interspersed through the film. At first we laid out the sections at regular intervals, but, as with all editing, human judgement finds some coincidences more pleasing than others. Hugh Strain at De Lane Lea sound studios achieved a perfect sound mix, foregrounding the music, as if it were, “this side” of the door.

In broad terms, the film tries, by means of patterning and rhythm, to maintain interest in what is glimpsed through a door, and sometimes allows a pause long enough but unobtrusive enough to satisfy a kind of longin, even if such stolen moments must only ever be brief.

dancer: Sylvie Guillem

choreography: Jonathan Burrows

film lighting: Jack Hazan

producers : Ben Woolford / Isabelle Dupont

music: Kevin Volans / Smith Quartet

design/director/camera/editing: Adam Roberts

BBC2 screening: BBC TV 28.12.95

DVD distribution Warner Music Entertainment