“War Chant” Musical Composition and Interpretive Dance

War Chant composed by Janice Misurell-Mitchell uses Angela Jackson’s poem “The War Chant of the Architect”. Performed at Six Degrees Composers Concert February 12, 2016. Sherwood Auditorium, Chicago. Cristal Sabbagh, dancer choreographer. Steve Butters, percussion.

In this video we were hired to primarily record the concert but this specific number included a dance sequence which we learned about just prior to the event. After locking down camera one on the musical performers I did my best to follow the dancer with a second hand held camera from my vantage point in the balcony.

After reviewing the recording I wanted to give the performance a more artistic look and feel so in post-production I added visual “noise” to the video of the dancer so that she would look more surreal and “other worldly”. I did not want her to be in sharp focus. I also wanted to integrate her more closely with the unusual musical performance, which is just flute and percussion, so I overlapped the video images. The flute player (composer Janice Mitchell) simultaneously recites a poem while playing her instrument. I wanted to be sure the viewer has a chance to appreciate this unique performance technique. By blending semi-transparent video of the dancer and music performers the viewer is able to take in both performances at the same time.

Since I did not have time prior to the event to plan my shot I simply attempted to follow the action. Later while editing I cropped the frame to keep the dancer isolated on the white background as much as possible and downplay the visual distraction of the piano and drum set that were on either side of the stage and not germane to the performance. This meant I had to fill the rest of the frame with something, so I elected to use some abstracted versions of the musical performance to provide an appropriate and graphically interesting visual element. In the end I feel the video visual effects complement the music and dance performance.

Note from Janice Mitchell:
Hi Reno, Thank you again for all your work and artistry on this!

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