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March 2, 2016

Matthew Piper’s “Leap Night!” dance films @ Knight Arts blog

Still frame from “Time I Change,” a local film featuring Detroit-based Haleem “Stringz” Rasul. Image courtesy of Oren Goldenberg and Cass Corridor Films.

On Feb. 29, arts writer and lover-of-dance Matthew Piper marked the occasion with “Leap Night!”–a lovely collection of short dance films that were screened at Play House in Detroit. A former Knight Arts blogger, Piper makes it a point to note that he is not a dancer. “In school plays, I was the one going left when everyone else stepped right,” he said in his opening remarks. He does, however, have a deep love and appreciation for dance, which he communicates through his writing and in this new dance film series, which he hopes to reprise in the summer.

Spanning several decades, the program included: “A Study in Choreography for the Camera” (1948) by Maya Deren; “Time I Change” (2012) by Oren Goldenberg, a local production featuring dance by Knight Arts grantee Haleem “Stringz” Rasul; “Calico Mingling” (1973) by Babette Mangolte; “Piano Phase (from Fase)” (2002) by Thierry de May; “Hand Movie” (1966) by Yvonne Rainer and William Davis; “Beach Birds for Camera” (1993) by Elliot Caplan; and “Accumulation with Talking Plus Watermotor” (1986) by Jonathan Demme.

“The inspiration for the night actually came from Liza Bielby of The Hinterlands [the performance ensemble that helps run Play House],” Piper said in an email interview. “I attended a terrific traveling program of contemporary dance-for-camera films from around the country last summer at Play House. Afterward, I was rambling on to Liza about some historic films in the genre I’m especially fond of, and she invited me to show them one day. I’m so pleased to have the opportunity, not only because I’m a big dance and film nerd, but also because I don’t think there are enough opportunities to engage with dance in Detroit.”

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