Ann Arbor Weather:
Sunday December 05, 2021
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
 Peter Sparling layers multiple images of himself dancing for his video

Peter Sparling Draws Inspiration From the Pandemic

Local dancer uses a green screen and found footage to make eclectic collage videos.

by Stephanie Sorter

Published in July, 2020

Peter Sparling, renowned performer and retired U-M dance professor, is dancing his way through the pandemic. He's produced over twenty pandemic-inspired dance videos since quarantine began, starting with a home studio tour filmed in the early days of lockdown. Because some episodes include nudity, his Vimeo profile may be better suited for adult viewers.

Each of Sparling's videos is an eclectic collage combining his modern dance skills with masterful video and sound editing. The videos, he explains, are made "with greenscreen, camera, editing software, painting and text to transpose my dancing figure onto the screen and create little worlds with and for it." In "Pandemic Paintbox," for example, two versions of Sparling in an apron interact with the painted backdrop behind them, telling the story of a painter trying to decide what to paint (Sparling is also a painter). In "A Shared Step on a Long Journey," a collaboration with Australian painter and printmaker William Kelly, Sparling's figures seem unaware of the vintage educational video on viruses playing behind them until they eventually fill the screen, wearing masks and miming hand washing.

Sparling says he started making the videos to "address themes of the pandemic in order to feel less isolated, useless and helpless, and to channel my rage." The topics vary, ranging from nude explorations of doctors and the fragility of the human body to poetic reflections on the way quarantine affects anger.

Sparling says dance adapts to video teaching only with difficulty. Although some motions can be taught in a limited space, students are missing out on the chance to move through larger studios and feel the "kinesthetic empathy" created by other dancers. However, he also believes that current technology and virtual teaching methods can "encourage autonomy and self-reliance among students" when it comes to finding places to dance. To put it into his own words, "have iPhone, will travel!"     (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2020.]

 




 
Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Sustainable Energy Utility
Ann Arbor is moving toward a bold green-energy plan that's never been tried before
Michael Betzold
Fine Finishes in Middle-Class Neighborhoods
August 2021 Home Sales Map
Sue Maguire
Breakfast and Lunch Spots Restaurants
Remembering Professor Don Cameron, by Jeffrey A. Stacey
To Mask or Not to Mask
On Main St., a split verdict
Eve Silberman
White Pine Kitchen
A restaurant without walls
Lee Lawrence
Tyrone Hicks
Lessons in life and basketball
Shelley Daily
Bryant Pattengill
Fifty Years at Bivouac
Last year was the toughest.
Ed Davidson
The EV Pioneers
Ready or not, electric vehicles are coming. We asked people who made the leap how it's going.
Jan Schlain
a guide to local holiday shopping and events
west end grill