If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pas de Deux pt1


Pas de deux (1968) is an award winning film by Scottish-Canadian director Norman McLaren, produced by the NFB.

The film sees two performers dancing a pas de deux, filmed on high contrast film stock with very stark side lighting. This is augmented by step-and-repeat printing on an optical printer. This gives the film an almost stroboscopic appearance.

Biographer Maynard Collins points out that the "technical virtuosity of this film, its ethereal beauty, its lovely Roumanian pan-type music, made it a joy to watch, even if - perhaps, especially if - you do not care for ballet."

Norman McLaren's Oscar-nominated short film Pas de Deux (1969) is a beautiful surreal dream. Pas de Deux bends our perception of movement, shape and form—and ballet itself—as two dancers, first seen in normal dance become endless reflections of themselves. McLaren became a ground-breaking abstract experimental filmmaker accumulating a body of influential short films.

In the film "Pas de deux" he does more than a recording of choreography. Much like with Norman McLaren other work the process of the recording is part of it's art.

He exposes the same frames as many as ten times, creating a multiple image of a ballerina and her partner. Black background and backlit figures coupled with pan pipes produce a quiet and detachment similar to that of his film Lines.

It contains components of both abstract and realism but unlike his other pieces it leans closer to the realistic end of the spectrum. One dancer is made to appear to be dancing with herself.

When the male dancer is introduced it then becomes more based on design there are trails of movement that are used as brush strokes as an artist paints on a canvas. Then the art fades as another stroke begins.

One would consider him from the impressionists school of theory. His works appeared to depart from realism. He was famous, for even using live subjects, having them appear animated.

His use of juxtaposition, rupture and speed alteration exemplify this in his films.
There is a feeling of dream like motion incorporated into the choreography through his work.

Pas de deux captures an aspect of dance that the human eye would not be able to achieve alone. It shows the use of patterns made through space in a clear fashion.....


  1. Thank you, truly was a special experience to see!
    Hi! Rudi

  2. Like animated brush strokes
    on an artist's canvas,
    wave after wave of
    light passes at varying pace
    the dancers weave in
    precise formation together,
    dance in patterns almost beautiful
    and dramatic to watch....

    Hello, Rudi :-)