A dancer spends years training to conceal any pain or difficulty during performances. Thus, small moments of strength and beauty can be overlooked, ‘lost to speed’ according to Niv Novak in an interview with MyModernNet. In Novak’s latest work, ‘Missed Nuance – A Ballet Art Film,’ audiences are forced to slow down and glorify every shift and change in the dancer’s body.
The film partners artists from our own Australian Ballet with the Bolshoi Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Queensland Ballet. Excerpts of the film have been scattered around social media under #missednuance, creating an endless time-loop of mesmerizing and satisfying clips. The full film can now be found on iTunes in 4k.
The trailer alone is hard evidence against the claim that ‘ballet is not a sport.’ It is an ode to the beauty and athleticism of these professionals. One costume appears like molten gold, spinning and rippling as it hardens around the dancer. In another shot, green silk soars through the air, like a blooming flower stretching it’s petals. And in a closeup of a shoe, mustard yellow fabric tangles around the leg of the dancer as the pointe shoe clicks forward into an extended pointe.
Like the dance form, Novak’s work faced many difficulties in production, yet the end product persevered, clearly conveying Novak’s genuine admiration for his dancers.
“What a thrill it is to see these amazing dancers captured in such exquisite detail and at a speed that we can see the sheer grit and power that goes into making dance that inspires with its beauty. It is a glimpse at the sublime captured by one who is also an artist and a great supporter of our art,” said David McAllister, Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet.
Dancer: Zoe Cavedon
Please hold… Technical Difficulties…
It took him 18 months to perfect the lighting in each shot, as he experimented with light numerous times as he attempted to replicate the lighting structure of portraiture in a video medium.
With 700kg of lighting equipment located in his Melbourne studio, it was paramount that dancers could travel to Melbourne. With companies like The Australian Ballet, there was no shortage of talent, however, international companies like the Bolshoi Theatre and The Royal Ballet have taken a deep interest in this project, hence numerous high calibre international dancers appearing in ‘Missed Nuance.’
A main source of anxiety for Novak centred on the idea that shooting 1000 frames per second would make any small imperfection very prominent. Novak describes in his interview with FilmDaily his lighting equipment had to be 5x stronger than the average studio equipment to ensure the picture remained smooth and fluid. Moreover, as every real-time second would equate to a 40-second film on camera, Novak estimated his camera recorded 11GB per second, meaning that each day of shooting would end with approximately 4-6TB of data.
Lights, Camera, Fashion!
Novak’s work not only showcased the finest talent in dance, but also places Australian couture in an international spotlight. All costumes were designed by leading Australian designers, the team lead by the likes of Belinda Pieris. The team delved into a deep study of fabric dynamics to ensure that the fabrics flowed through every movement and shot, ensuring nothing less than perfection in this collaboration between dance and fashion.
“I’ve been in the fashion industry for over two decades and I have never seen fabric move and come alive the way that Niv’s work demonstrated, absolutely breathtaking!” Jason Grech, Designer
Dancer: Yuumi Yamada
Although sounds are often underestimated in the business of photography, Novak spared no expense in ensuring that the score maintained the same high standards as his images. Melbourne-based composer Troy Rogan was commissioned to create an original score that reflects the beauty and grace of the film. The score aims to create a tranquil atmosphere, creating a trance-like effect on the audience. Maybe that’s why we got stuck in that endless time loop, watching these satisfying videos back-to-back?
Novak hopes audiences return to their daily life being more appreciative of dancers and beauty. He describes that ‘beauty is in every other instant,’ which completely sums up the purpose of the film. In a greater sense, the piece is an ode to the brilliant capabilities of humans, of the results of perseverance and spirit.