The Research behind Craziest Dream and Ballet
This post will show you guys some of the steps I took to making Craziest Dream, a new lipsync I've been working on, and another research I've been looking into for ballet as an art form, a dance, and a means of expression and performance.
It all started with inspirational ballet videos:
Slow motion Ballet: a breathtaking video that allows you to really analyse poses. It shows you how amazing, graceful, and fluent the dancer is at all times. A ballet dancer is always in control of their body
This is the trailer for a very interesting documentary that encompasses ballet dancers. It's already out and scored a 96% on rotten tomatoes!! I haven't watched it yet but the moment I find spare time, I'll be definitively renting or looking to buy it. The trailer already gives you a bit of a deep insight on ballet, the dancers, and their struggle behind the dance. This largely influenced acting choices for the Craziest Dream lipsync.
From watching those videos, I took in note the following:
- Toes are pointed outwards?
- Foot rolls into pointed toes pushing off the front cushion
- Ballet movements --> While something is delicately moving at a constant, delicate rate, another arm or part of body like leg, starts a fast movement (take-off) and settles at the same rate as the rest of the body. It puts emphasis on what the dancer move next
- Dancers are always in control of their body even in mid-air
- Even their Reaction (follow-through) Recovery and Settles are used in artistic manner. They are made a part of the dance and are stylized and elegant
- Arms and body are loose but elegant. Loose, not stiff, and just in such a relaxed but controlled pose
- Curves, it's all about curves. Most gracious curves ever, elegance is portrayed through curves whether it is the movement or just the body's line of action and movement (portrayed through pose)
- Burst of movement then it settles into a graceful, slow contant velocity
And I managed to get to talk to a ballerina, Gloria Garza. She was very kind and even wrote out paragraphs of a glimpse into a ballerina's mentality and struggle:
Ballet is a beautiful art, and one thing that I guess you could always keep in mind (don't know if this would help with the animation) is that dancers have to make everything look as graceful as possible. Even if we are in pain, we have to make it seems as if it's a piece of cake lifting our leg more than 90 degrees and standing on our tippie toes lol.
My teachers always told us that we are like swans. From the top nothing moves, but when you look under the water you can see that the feet are moving all around. Dancers are somewhat like that. The upper body of a dancer cannot really show that there's a lot of movement going on with our legs. I dunno if im explaining myself correctly? Hahaha, it easier to show than to write
Also we have to really make the movements flow. If we are going to plie (when you bend your knees) we can't just stop, we have to make it look as if we are continuing to plie even if we've reached as far as we can go.
Well breathing is a very important part of dancing (and well just to live overall haha) but when a ballet dancer breathes it also helps to "elongate" the movement. For example you are stretching your arm to do a port de bra (i actually have no idea how to write that lol. But it's pretty much just moving your arms) you always have to try to reach higher. It's the same for your neck, you upper body etc. You are always reaching higher and breathing helps that. So maybe that could help with the animation too.
Its kinda like what i said about the plie and making it seem as if you're still moving even if you've reached your maximum. Breathing helps the upper body because as you breath in to bend over or to lift your leg a bit higher it gives that effect that you are reaching higher, or lower (in fact it sometimes does! haha).
[...] A lot of people don't realize how much work ballet actually requires. It's not only an art, but its a discipline. You have to have endurance, perseverance and you are always trying to reach perfection, so it does take a certain type of person to manage to stay in ballet. We are constantly thinking of a thousand things. We have to think about our necks, our arms, our fingers, our knees, our turn outs etc etc. and then hear the music, and remember the steps and well perform. It's like that saying "If ballet were any easier it'd be called Football" haha. Well im sure any sport has its own things that make it difficult
- Gloria GarzaNext came the studies on ballet footage:
These are possible acting choices for the audio clip I chose from "Black Swan" starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. In the audio Natalie says, "I had the craziest dream last night. I was dancing the white swan".
I chose the wheelchair scenario, and eventually storyboarded possible ideas. Also studied weight shift in a patient:
Lots of notes were taken for the possible weight shift occurring from bed to chair, but eventually that acting choice got cut since it wasn't super relevant to the performance, and the pause in the audio was not nearly long enough to preform a bed to chair lift
Some ballet studies:
Reference videos were shot ;) but I still have a LOOOONGG way to go with acting. The shot still doesn't portray the emotion enough and hopefully I'll get to work on it a little more later to improve it.