As a choreographer doing copious amounts of site-specific work, I am obsessed with the possibilities proposed by the physical scale, both architectural and natural, that a site presents. I respond instinctively, pursuing the human movement, forms, and relationships suggested by and in response to the height, distance, and horizon of a place. How best to bring the highest and most distant points of a site to the eye at street level and vice-versa? How and when to reference the history and or current use of a place in the movement and more? How to leave an audience, whether the medium is film or live performance, emotionally sated by the experience of bearing witness to the work?
I was immediately drawn to the teaser for the dance film Glance from the Edge, as it looks to be a film grappling with all these ideas and others. It has striking and impressive visuals, and suggests the beginning of an emotional narrative between a group of dancers who double as friends, lovers, and perhaps more. Glance from the Edge was created as a collaboration between Bulgarian co-directors and choreographers Kosta Karakashyan and Stephanie Handjiiska, and is filmed entirely on location in remote parts of their home country over a staggering 10-day shoot. The film includes beautiful cinematography by Kevin Chiu, and an emotive score by Jude Icarus.
While I found myself at times feeling the film was overly sentimental in its thematic and youthful sense of earnestness and longing, the visuals are undeniably powerful and I await the arrival of the completed film. In reading an interview with the film’s team, I was particularly struck by co-director Kosta, how she referenced being inspired choreographically by the sensation she got from every place, and by her lovely and thoughtful words:
I see myself as an artist working on the edge between different practices, goals and tastes in my home country and New York. The biggest problem facing Bulgaria beyond the art world is the corruption, political disappointment and lack of accountability our politicians are enjoying.
It makes up for a very dissatisfied population that sees art as a means of escapism rather than reflection. I hope our project will inspire them to see Bulgaria through a new lens, and at the same time I hope this film will reach a wide audience that isn’t familiar with Bulgaria or site-specific dance.
I hope to inspire them to connect viscerally to their own surroundings with care and tenderness.