Commercial Hollywood pictures in the 1930’s into the 1940’s became fascinated with the dancing subject. In the Hollywood context, key figures including Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen and Vincent Minelli positively impacted how audiences would view dance in cinema. Dance scenes would be shot from the dancer’s perspective, with a dancer’s eye… framing the full body in motion encouraging no cutting away from the dancer in post-production. Subsequently, developments in Modern dance were building, and independent performance and indie film played a role in experimental approaches towards exhibiting dance. Experimental filmmaker, Maya Deren worked with minimal resources, small film crews and modern dancers on dance and film. Deren’s “A Study in Choreography for Camera” (1945) was the first experimental filmdance to be written about in Dance Magazine and The New York Times. Her experimental approach to working with dancer Talley Beatty (in “A Study in Choreography for Camera”) pioneered editing techniques focusing on uninterrupted flow in the moving camera and in post-production. Maya Deren advocated for the amateur filmmaker as the most important part of film production. She practiced and wrote (in the essay “Amateur versus Professional” (1959)) that you, your body, yourself as the filmmaker and your imaginative mind is most essential. Use your mind, your body and your imagination to make films.


Jennifer Nikolai (PhD) is an Edmonton-born contemporary dancer, choreographic researcher and lecturer at AUT University, Auckland New Zealand. Jennifer’s playfulness engages digital recording devices, motion capture technologies, virtual reality and animation. Jennifer can be found with camera-in-hand, between her country of origin and her country of residency.