alight likes: Thought of You

Thought of You – Behind the Scenes Preview – ROUGH CUT from Cambell Christensen on Vimeo.

“Thought of You” is a short 2-D animated film directed and animated by Ryan Woodwood.  The work blends figure drawings, 2D animation, visual Fx, and contemporary dance to evoke the movement and emotion of an intimate relationship.  Woodward has had a very successful career working on big distribution Hollywood films such as Spider Man 3, Iron Man 2 and Where the Wild Things Are, but this was a personal project, just something he’d envisioned for a while and wanted to make happen.

I discovered “Thought of You” when a dancer friend of mine, Sarah Anne Austin, posted it on her Facebook page, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.  Usually, when I think of dancing animation, I get visions of Disney movies like Fantastia or Beauty in the Beast in my head.  And, honestly, I am sucker for some good cartoon dancing of the sort where pink elephants prance and Bugs Bunny square dances.  That said, “Thought of You” is something all together different because it actually evokes the delicacy and power of modern dance in a way that strikes me much the same way as a live dance performance.

As a choreographer, it was clear to me from watching the finished product that Woodward had collaborated with some real flesh-and-blood dancers to work this magic.  I’ve posted above a short documentary of the process of making “Thought of You” (see the finished product HERE) because I loved seeing how this brilliant collaboration between the animator, the choreographer and the dancers worked.  For me, seeing the process through which any is work developed almost heightens the sense of magic and mystery surrounding the final performance or product, and this was no different.

In my own work, as well in the work of artists I admire, there always seems to be a bit of alchemy involved.  First there is the idea, the tiny seed of thought which becomes a vision and eventually evolves into plans with schedules and deadlines.  People come together to work, think, create, fail and regroup and finally produce this thing that was once just a thought.  In the process, the original idea remains both essentially unchanged and yet often radically altered by the touch of the particular artists working in concert.  In the end, every work of art is a bit of miracle. Something as elegant as “Thought of You” is the sum of its parts and yet completely transcends the nuts and bolts of its components.

2 thoughts on “alight likes: Thought of You

  1. Thanks for the hat tip, Angella. Your discussion about collaboration made me think of the final collaborator – the audience. The YouTube posting of this video has tons of comments from people about what they got out of the video, how they interpret it, what thoughts and feelings came up and even specific situations from their own lives they see reflected in the work.

    I don’t know about you, but it can be like pulling teeth to get comments like these from a flesh-and-blood audience. Why is that? Well, for one thing, lots of people want to get home, beat traffic, and let the babysitter go. Others don’t want to look “stupid” or just need more time to absorb what they saw. A posting like this video gives a safe, anonymous space for people to discuss their views on their own time. It’s very inspiring.

    The quality and quantity of comments shows that there is an audience for modern dance, and audiences are more than happy to interpret the final product. With the huge success of So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and this video, I truly believe there is a large audience out there for modern dance. We have to create these safe, welcoming spaces in real life.

  2. Happy to cite my source, Sarah Anne! And, your point about the audience as the final collaborator is a good one. It is encouraging to see people really engaging with modern dance whatever its form. While I still really value the live theater experience, I am drawn more and more to the possibilities of dance on film. So much of the art I consume on a daily basis is recorded and experienced via my own personal laptop. I think part of the magic of projects such as “Thought of You” is the sheer intimacy of the medium as well as the concept. When we watch things online, by ourselves, maybe in the middle of the night, we get this experience of that thing of beauty existing only for us…and yet we can instantly respond and feel like we’re part of a conversation. It is a dual experience of solitude and connection that is very different than being part of a live theatrical audience where our experience is bound up with the time and space of others (including that babysitter). I’m not ready to abandon the live stage, but I do have questions about how to bridge the gap between these two very powerful but increasingly disparate ways of experiencing dance. Thanks for your response and for sharing this little gem to begin with!