This is the first film I watched of the British choreographer, Jonathan Burrows. He is currently my Choreographer Crush. Partly because I truly think he makes interesting and wonderful work. But also because he has a great website with lots of links and articles and interviews and stuff that will keep you perusing. He also puts a fair amount of his work on YouTube, the whole piece, neatly into sections which makes me so happy and I plan on writing a bit more about his work in the future.

Hooray for Artists Who Share! ( Over here)


It is a beautiful and original work of art. I love it very much. I like that it is short and captivating and that it is understated and simple. Unlike Rainer’s hands, this piece seems to have the courage to really build up and near the middle, the flow of movement speeds up into an intricate, absorbing pattern. I feel like out of the three films I have mentioned in this little blog series, the continuity and movement in this one is the most rewarding. The ‘choreography’ is entirely present and intentional and wonderful. This film manages to make one’s body do a little twitch in response to movement and its not easy to do that with just hands, to create such a sense of motion.

The process of making this film also sounds really interesting, Matteo Fargion (a composer who works and collaborates a lot with Burrows) created a score and replaced the notes with certain gestures that Burrows performed. Here’s the score:


Compact and Good. This is the sort of dance film that I can show to my mom to show her why I think dance is so great and brilliant and actually wins out of all the other art forms (even though yes, of course, it’s not a competition.) This is also the kind of film I can show people when I want to convince them that what I mean by ‘dance’ is not the So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance-sort-of-Dance. More like So You Think You Can Move Your Hands Choreographically And Beautifully and Originally and Artistically? (A terrible name for an international TV show).

This piece was made about 30 years after Yvonne Rainer’s Hand Movie. It was made in 1994 and broadcasted on BBC in 1995, about the same time that my country had its first democratic vote. It still astounds me when I think of what the rest of the world was doing and making during apartheid in South Africa and my naïve, small little brain sometimes cannot comprehend work from the 1980s and 1990s that could possibly by unpoliticised and aesthetically driven. But the world is big place and everyone is doing everything. From making lovely black and white dance films to legally segregating black and white humans. Yikes.


Enough, here it is:

One thought on “Hands – Part 3: Jonathan Burrows

  1. Pingback: Jonathan Burrows: The Stop Quartet | people are dancing here.

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