In 2011, Wim Wenders’ 3D dance film Pina received international acclaim and was presented as a maturation of the 3D format which had grown in popularity over the last decade. (1) Kate Muir at The Times declared that Pina’s premier marked a time when “3-D grew up and became a sophisticated medium” (2) and Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian suggested Wenders “has created a tremendous film that sets out to make the new 3D technology an integral part of what is being created – a film with clarity and passion.” (3) Two teen-dance films from the previous year, Streetdance 3D (Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini, 2010) and Step Up 3D (Jon M. Chu, 2010) were given less favourable reviews and critical attention often focused on acting ability, plot or dialogue with only slight deference to the spectacular aesthetics that their stereoscopic (three-dimensional) imagery introduced. Of Streetdance, “It’s pure poppycock […] yet, thanks to its general exuberance and a knack for making London look young and glamorous, it put a smile on my face.” (4) And Step Up: “While the 3D dance scenes pop off the screen, the lines – and clichéd plot – are delivered with a resounding clunk.” (5) These reviews suggest that 3D moving images enhance the physical proficiency that is already apparent in the teen-dance film genre but stereoscopic filming does little to reinvent contemporary cinema in the way that many supporters of 3D films hoped for. (6) Nevertheless, there is value in looking closely at their stereoscopic moving images to examine the extent to which they, along with Pina, rework screen aesthetics. In particular, each film introduces a new way of looking at the performer’s body that, in turn, places a new focus on the audience’s embodied position in relation to that body.

This mode confirms a trend that Thomas Elsaesser has identified whereby twenty-first century 3D is not merely a special effect but instead establishes a new visual standard. (7) 3D’s effect becomes all the more apparent when it combines with a tradition of putting dance on screen that counters narrative dominance in cinema. It marks a return to and continuation of the cinema of attractions that Gunning highlights in early cinema (8) and other critics have observed in later films and new media platforms. (9) The focus on dancing bodies in these 3D films also makes a link to modernist forms in early cinema:

“the subjects of early cinema, which frequently involved the spectacle of a more broadly defined woman in motion (dancers, acrobats, pornographic performers), provided an ‘excess’ of visual distractions, a defining marker of early modernist spectatorship.” (10)

A contemporary fascination with excess is satisfied by stereoscopic moving images’ ability to reproduce infinite depth planes and pop-out effects, all of which combines with the dancing body in motion. Furthermore, the almost equal division of labour between male and female dancing bodies in these films updates the focus on the body in a twenty-first century context whereby the body’s commodification transpires across genders. (11) They rely on a tradition of dance films that have narrative tendencies but more often than not reproduce the spectacle as primary experience in the film. In a similar fashion to early cinema, their “energy moves outward towards an acknowledged spectator rather than inward towards the character-based situations essential to classical narrative.” (12)

Other twenty-first century stereoscopic films, such as Avatar (James Cameron, 2009) Resident Evil: Afterlife (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2010), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay, 2011) and Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011), also revel in the spectacle they are able to produce yet they commonly focus on three-dimensional landscapes and the ability for non-human objects to project into the auditorium. Streetdance, Step Up and Pina highlight more acutely the spatial dimensions that exist between the human bodies of characters and how this produces meaning between them and with their audience. Streetdance and Step Up are both fictional features based on the premise of dance competitions during which the protagonists have to build partnerships, define themselves in opposition to other characters and achieve physical proficiency, all through their participation in dance. In Pina, a documentary format presents dancers from the Tanztheater Wuppertal as an interconnected company that draws their movement and inspiration from the highly physical work of the late choreographer Pina Bausch. (13) During each film, the interpersonal relationships of the dancers are highlighted and expressed through scenes of intense corporeal motion. Furthermore, as I shall discuss, numerous stereoscopic scenes in these films allow a type of direct address to the auditorium that implicates the viewer’s body within these spatial configurations. Central to this process is a tension between the close-to and far-from links that are produced between audience and action by the illusion of depth in stereoscopic moving-images. Within these contexts, 3D dance films can thus amplify and reinvent the already significant aspects of the dance film genre: the consideration of the body on screen, its physicality and also the viewer’s embodied relationship with this body and the screen space.

Roots for the dance genre are evident from the beginning of moving image technology. (14) As early as 1893, dance in cinematic form was seen when Georges Demenÿ recorded French cancan dancers and ballerinas executing an entrechat on his phonoscope (15) and evidence suggests that he used stereoscopic lenses for later attempts. (16) It was in the same era (1884-85) that Eadweard Muybridge’s fascination with bodies in motion led him to record the image of a woman performing a Pirouette for projection (17) and there is speculation that he too attempted motion studies in a stereoscopic format. (18) While dance was more commonly filmed in 2D formats, it referenced dancers such as Loïe Fuller who were linked to modernist movements – Symbolism and Art Noveau – that were concerned with new forms of visual expression. (19) Fuller’s experimentation with coloured stage lights and extensive fabrics were prominent and her “studies in motion and light were an appealing subject for filmmakers such as Edison, who doggedly tried to film her and her serpentine dance imitators.” (20) One of the earliest Edison films, Serpentine Dance (1894), derived its name from Fuller’s piece with the same title and was performed by one of Fuller’s many imitators, Annabelle Whitford Moore. (21) Versions of the film show an initial shot of a dancer enjoying the opportunity to display her physical abilities to an apparent off-screen audience that is followed by another shot where long stretches of fabric envelop and hide her. In each shot, the depiction of motion is captivating and seemingly uncontainable. The flowing material and its relationship with both the dancer’s body and an implicit audience, precedes a concern with spatial configurations that has been at the heart of stereoscopic filmmaking since its inception.

Advancements in cinema’s technological control over temporal relations only furthered the ability to present and explore this body in front of the viewer. While slow motion and the production of still images from the film strip opened up “possibilities for analysing and demonstrating dance steps,” (22) it also offered visions of the dancing body that were not available elsewhere: “Dancing Grace, filmed by Pathe in the early 1920s, shows Lydia Lopokova bounding across a lawn with gravity-defying lightness, a hint at the artistic effects that slow motion could generate.” (23) This concern for artistic effect points towards a desire for forms of visuality that went beyond merely reproducing the pro-filmic in the films’ aesthetic. Furthermore, dance on screen held a fascination that was outside and distinct from the trend towards narrative development and psychological characterization that was emerging in feature films. In its purest moments, dance retained a type of a-narrative that was similar to nineteenth century optical toys such as the phenakisticope and zoetrope. (24) The subsequent popularity of the musical created a place for dance in film throughout the twentieth century that continued to rupture narrative and returned the focus to the moving body. (25)

When 3D cinema returned to popularity in the twenty-first century and merged with the films under study here, it retained this moving body focus and emphasised the qualities of dance on film that emerged throughout the twentieth century: prominent relationships with the audience; temporal reconfiguration; and acute attention to spatial dimensions. Yet it is also able to add a quality to the presentation of dance that is not found elsewhere. In the first instance, the curvature of the body and its intense movement through space interact with a moving-image format that dismisses the flat surface of the screen. The variety of spatial planes available in 3D cinema, along with the ability to position action in negative and positive parallax space, explode the determining plane of the fourth wall. (26) One of its many distinctions is that stereoscopic film highlights and reconfigures the placement of the audience because they are perceived to be brought within touching distance of the characters’ bodies; a factor that is made all the more potent when the dancers’ continued motion articulates the space between them and the audience. The greater variety of depth cues available, in comparison to 2D, also allows for a closer approximation of the spatial configurations that exist in live dance. At the same time, the continuation of camera framing – from the close-up to overhead shots and high or low angles – means there are perspectives on the body that are unavailable to the viewer’s eye in live representation. These factors explain, in part, why ballet companies are willing to have their performances filmed in 3D. For example, in 2010, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg broadcasted a live stereoscopic performance of their most famous ballets. (27) Sky television in the UK has also worked with a number of companies to provide dance performances as one of the main features on their new 3D channel. A central concern is the potential for stereoscopic techniques to enhance the qualities of dance rather than allow dance to become another object in 3D’s exhibition of gimmicks: “It needs a lot of thought, not to be a prisoner of technology – the natural flow of the dance has to be a top priority.” (28) Whereas in the twentieth century 3D period, “emergence was generally presented as isolated moments of play in an otherwise classically constructed narrative,” (29) the new era of digital 3D offers complex, sustained, explorations of the screen space. This extension of the 3D effect can be attributed to a return to the spectacular in late twentieth and early twenty-first century blockbusters but is a factor also made possible by technological developments that allow stereoscopic effects to be augmented and finely tuned in post-production.

The stereoscopic dance films are particularly good examples of 3D cinema’s ability to extend moments of play and attraction as the central concern throughout. In particular, they are able to offer a cinematic relationship with the audience that is distinct from both the two-dimensional viewing experience and the experience of watching live dance performances filmed in 3D. A distinction between filmed 3D dance and 3D dance films can be understood through consideration of the way that dance is offered to the audience. In the latter, there is the appearance of a present-tense diegesis that the audience is invited into rather than a previous, and now finished, representation which is replayed for the viewer. In Pina, Streetdance and Step Up, the presence of the audience is confirmed by a number of direct address techniques that also help to situate the films as distinct from traditional narrative feature films. While Karen Pearlman suggests that in fictional feature films “the dancers never ‘look down the barrel’ directly at the camera lens or acknowledge the cinema audience” (30) I would suggest that in both of the fictional feature films under study here – Streetdance and Step Up – there are moments that recognize their non-diegetic audience. Although Streetdance and Step Up have determined fictional characters and a narrative drive for the introduction of dance numbers, there is often only a thin thread of story linking together their spectacular dance scenes. Both films have been attacked by critics for a lack of plot and substantial characterisation but there is something pleasurable in their cinema of attraction quality that seems to recall Méliès claim that the scenario or tale was unimportant to him because “I use it merely as a pretext for the ‘stage-effects,’ the ‘tricks,’ or for a nicely arranged tableau.” (31) It is the outward looking nature of the dance sequences’ ‘tricks’ that dismantle any sense of a self-contained diegesis and suggests an implied viewer. Furthermore, their moments of dance conform to a factor Patrice Pavis recognises in dance sequences:

Without the safety net of a clearly established narrative, the “danced” spectator (i.e., the spectator touched by the grace of the dance) is at the mercy of the dance’s flux, unable to avoid being touched by the energetic intensity of the dancing body. The dancer’s perception is connected to the bodily image of the observer, which is above all motorial and kinaesthetic; for it is neither narrative nor codified, tied neither to the linear unfolding of meaning or story, nor to the deciphering of figurative contents.” (32)

In each film, stereoscopic visuality situates the dancing body close to the audience and combines the energy of the dancer and the body of the viewer in a shared screen space, allowing the films to enhance the type of affect identified here by Pavis.

The major way in which this shared screen space is created is through negative parallax that permits object to transgress any sense of a flat screen and appear situated in the movie-theatre’s auditorium. In Pina, distance between viewer and dancer is reduced by the stereoscopic effect that allows the angular limbs of dancers to protrude towards the viewer. Spatial relations between viewer and dancers are further affected during a dance sequence when one dancer is placed in negative parallax and the others are behind the traditional plane of the screen. Although the choreography arranges the dancers as a group, stereoscopic filming separates them and brings one into a screen space in proximity to the viewer. This proximity is most apparent in one of the final dance sequences where the majority of the theatre’s stage is covered in water and the liquid spills between stage space and the viewer’s shared screen space. A similar employment of liquid and flowing objects is used in Step Up and Streetdance.

In Step Up this includes the use of bubbles and escaping balloons when central character, Moose, out-dances other characters in front of New York University during the first major dance sequence. While the bubbles are filmed side-on and seem to float around Moose and other characters, the balloons are shot from above and appear to stream out into the auditorium. Other dance sequences use clouds of chalk and various liquids to provide similar effects. In Streetdance, for example, ballet-school dancer, Isabella, throws a glass of water over a fellow dancer in the dance school’s canteen and the slow motion used in this shot provides time to consider the tactile quality of the liquid as it escapes towards us. The subsequent scene then shows a food fight breaking out in which there is an overload of differing spatial planes and movement when food is flung through the space, at the characters’ bodies and into the auditorium.

Negative parallax is also able to confirm the presence of the audience in a way that problematises any distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic space. When characters participate in the numerous dance competitions in Step Up, they often face the camera and undertake a type of move that involves thrusting their arms outwards in complex motions. This is a style of dance that grew in popularity throughout nightclubs and street-dance movements from the 1980s onwards and, significantly, it is directed at an intended recipient in a way that amplifies a conscious relationship between dancer and onlooker.

The stereoscopic effects create a negative parallax configuration in this moment, pushing the arms of the dancer close to the seated audience members. When this movement is used in Step Up, it is somewhere between traditional dance movement that knows it is a performative act – designed for an audience – and the highly self-reflexive moments in film when characters speak directly to their audience (Ferris in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1986) or Tyler Durden in Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)). Audience members know they are being performed to and are, in this way, aware that they are placed at a distance from the film’s diegesis. At the same time, the optical illusion suggests they are within touching distance of the performing body that reaches out towards them. This double effect of simultaneous near to and far from can be read in two ways. On the one hand, it represents a new form of realism in which the stereoscopy brings the spectator towards the action and into the mise-en-scène in a way that treats the viewer as a character in the narrative. The envelopment of the viewer in the 3D screen space allows their constituent place in the screen action to replicate their spatial placement in real world action. On the other hand, the film acknowledges a viewer in the auditorium who is outside the diegesis. Rather than suggesting that one perspective negates the other, I would argue that audiences are able to participate in both these states simultaneously in a way that concentrates and exaggerates Jenifer Barker’s claim that audiences are always doubly situated within the cinema. (33) William Paul discusses a similar experience that takes place in Dial M for Murder when “even as Kelly’s hand reaches out into our space, it also reiterates the unbridgeable gulf that separates our space from that of the film image because we know we cannot reach back.” (34) While Paul goes on to say that this moment reinforces the audience status as passive viewers, I believe that our positions within the 3D screen space, and engagement with the stereoscopic effect, provoke an embodied presence that maintains an active stance.

Spectatorial placement is not only instigated by the moments of negative parallax that project movement towards the viewer; there are also numerous moments when the eye is brought into spatial planes that extend towards the back of the screen space. Step Up’s opening scenes take place in the streets around New York University where lead character Moose accidentally finds himself engaged in a ‘dance-off’. When the camera follows Moose as he stumbles upon the dance sequence that is already in progress, it has to break through a circle of students looking onto the performance. The depth planes provided by the 3D images, and the camera movement through them, heighten the sense that the audience member is no longer restricted to their auditorium seat but can push through these various bodies, thus finding themselves a space within the scene. It is a type of movement that brings the viewer into an active screen space, particularly when the eye is given the illusion that the physical body is being asked to contribute as it moves past other bodies, rather than closer to a flat panorama. This aspect brings 3D representation close to staged performance because the boundary of the screen acts in a similar manner to the proscenium arch with the action extending away from the audience member. Pina heightens this aspect when the second shot of the film situates the viewer in front of the stage of the Tanztheater Wuppertal and matches their viewpoint with the visible auditorium seating. However, camera movement through this space transgresses the proscenium arch’s boundary that normally enforces the fourth wall. It is an aspect that is highlighted in Streetdance when the protagonist, Carly, attends a ballet performance in a traditional London theatre. Although the proscenium arch initially frames the action of the dancers on stage, they are subsequently brought out into a space of their own through new framing which allows the viewer to see their movement in a separate space.

This tension between close to and far from, or immersed in and outside of, the three dimensional moving images is explored further when the films utilise stationary objects. In one of Streetdance’s musical scenes, Carly and another main character, Tomas, talk to each other on a roof-top above London. The camera is situated intimately close to them and their three dimensional scope suggests physical proximity to the viewer. Yet when they begin dancing, horizontal and vertical objects such as window beams and scaffolding are foregrounded. The way in which these objects appear to float in the auditorium, between audience and the moving bodies, means that the viewer is placed behind these objects as a voyeur looking onto the action in the deeper planes yet also as a positioned body in the highly acute spatial configurations. In a similar way, Pina uses positive parallax to highlight a number of rooms, one behind the other, that are seen through a succession of doorframes. There is a sense of voyeuristic framing when we are permitted to peer through the open doors onto a woman carrying a tree on her back and, in a separate space, a woman shovelling dirt onto another woman. Scenes such as these complicate spectatorial positioning and hark back to a tendency noted by Siegfried Kracauer in earlier dance films:

Records of dancing sometimes amount to an intrusion into the dancer’s intimate privacy. His self-forgetting rapture may show in queer gestures and distorted facial expressions which are not intended to be watched, save by those who cannot watch them because they themselves participate in dancing. Looking at such secret displays is like spying; you feel ashamed for entering a forbidden realm where things are going on which must be experienced not witnessed. Hence the supreme virtue of the camera consists precisely in acting the voyeur. (35)

These two, simultaneous perspectives – a new voyeuristic realism that can get closer to the characters without being seen and an acknowledgment of the self within the screen space – highlight, once again, the doubled position of the viewer, and the ability the camera has to explore and study movement. The latter fits with a tendency that was noted with early representations of dance on film.

Concerned as much with camera movements as editing, the energizing of dance aimed to deplete the possible representations of mobility by exploring all possible aspects (exterior, then interior). This logic referred back to Epstein’s own definition of photogénie as the exploitation of all space-time variables. (36)

The new 3D depiction of dance enhances this tendency but, at the same time, the expansion of action into an infinite screen space often suggests that total representation will never be captured.

While the examples given so far suggest a spectatorial experience based on the eye’s vision, 3D film is particularly effective at heightening the physical affect that cinema can create. There are a number of sequences in each film where other muscles and senses in the viewer’s body are called upon. (37) During Streetdance’s ‘break it down’ scene, in which Carly asks other characters to introduce various street moves one by one, the audience is encouraged to follow their instructional quality, feeling their own bodies replicate, even in a relatively stationary form, the moves that they are watching. The desire to do this is enhanced by the excessive, three dimensional quality of the bodies emerging from the screen-space in co-ordination with the pulsating soundtrack. It is a response which is also brought forth during the ‘dance off’ inside a nightclub. The edges of the shots are filled with bodies surrounding the central action, pulling the viewer into proximity with other dancing characters that mimic and react to the up-close dance moves of the competitors. The call for movement in the viewer’s body is similar to the calls made on the viewer in the action-movie chase scenes which Barker discusses in The Tactile Eye. (38) She suggests that chase scenes invite the viewer to watch the action on screen but also participate physically as muscles and tendons react to and follow the motions taking place: tensing, gasping, leaning in, cowering back, relaxing and so on. In 3D films, the stereoscopic images bring a distinct quality to this process because they appear to bring the viewer closer to the action and immerse them more fully in the physicality of the surrounding events.

The stereoscopic configuration of space also has the ability to re-make the close-up; that which Jean Epstein understands as the “soul of the cinema,” (39) and Béla Balász believes reveals “the hidden life of little things.” (40) Although the dance context of the films places emphasis on spectacular bodies, Streetdance and Step Up take time to highlight the faces of their central characters. Two of the main characters in these films, Luke from Step Up and Carly from Streetdance, do remarkably little dancing compared to other characters but there are numerous scenes when the camera lingers on their youthful faces. In Streetdance, there is a lengthy shot when Carly lies on her bed to call her boyfriend. The smallest of gestures take place – her mouth barely moves, her eyes express a range of emotions – all of which are intensified by her stereoscopic depth. At another point, she watches a ballet performance in the theatre but the camera spends time looking closely at her expressions while she participates in the act of looking. During one of Pina’s scenes, a number of female dancers take a piece of fabric (a red dress) and offer it to the camera which is acting as substitute for one of the male dancers. The close-up on these dancers combines with a direct address to the viewer via their gaze and is enhanced by the stereoscopy that supplies their faces with fully rounded contours. Further close-ups on faces occur throughout the film when individual dancers are situated against a dark background and their own speech is used as a voice-over while they look at and adjust their gaze away from the camera. The close-up enhances the multiple and simultaneously minute movements in their features while the detailed exploration of the face is enhanced by the hyper-real quality that stereoscopic images produce. Furthermore, the rounded form of the face, as with all spherical objects, is an effective surface for the stereoscopic effect that both suggests three-dimensional depth and alludes to the weightless nature of the optical illusion.

Todd McGowan notes the way in which close-ups in Avatar momentarily separate the object from the fullness and plenitude of the 3D world around it and create a new relationship between the viewer and film. (41) This is in line with Balász, Gilles Deleuze, and Epstein’s embrace of the close- up as autonomous entity that halts narrative flow. (42) These factors are further enhanced in the 3D dance films where shots tend to be longer and linger for greater time on characters’ faces than in action films such as Avatar. In the same way that Gunning believes “many of the close-ups in early film differ from later uses of the technique precisely because they do not use enlargement for narrative punctuation, but as an attraction in its own right,” (43) 3D films allow the attraction quality of their close-up to take precedence over narrative development. When a 2D close-up of a face appears, it exists in its own dimension. We may know what it relates to (a body in space depicted in a previous or later shot) but “we would still feel that that we have suddenly been left alone with this one face to the exclusion of the rest of the world.” (44) This feature is exaggerated when stereoscopic filming presents the face on a separate spatial plane from objects in prior and subsequent shots. Although Doane warns us against forgetting the mobility of the film before and after the close-up, (45) I do feel that the close-ups in 3D films are stronger pauses than their 2D counterparts. The overwhelming effect of their stereoscopic depth arrests the action to return us to the delicacy of the close-up rather than leaving it to flow into the chain of alternative view-points offered in classical editing. The process is all the more acute when each cut in the 3D film requires the eye to reconverge on a new plane of action thus producing body labour in the viewing process rather than a smooth transition between shots.

Kracauer and Epstein emphasize the power that comes from the close-up’s scale and magnification (46) and the early twenty-first century tendency to watch 3D on the cinema screen rather than on smaller home-viewing or portable devices permits a continual relationship with this magnification of on-screen objects. In Kracauer’s reading of an early close-up in After Many Years (D.W. Griffiths, 1908), he provides various possibilities for audience interaction with this shot type. On the one hand, “the close-up of [Annie Lee’s] face is not an end in itself; rather, along with the subsequent shots, it serves to suggest what is going on behind that face – Annie’s longing reunion with her husband.” (47) On the other hand,

“Griffith wanted us to absorb the face for its own sake instead of just passing through and beyond it; the face appears before the desires and emotions to which it refers have been completely defined, thus tempting us to get lost in its puzzling indeterminacy. Annie’s face is also an end in itself. (48)

This enigmatic feature, the enlarged face that provides and disavows explanation, is replicated in stereoscopic depth in the 3D dance films but is further intensified by the simultaneous near to and far from quality of moving-images in the auditorium. At what point can we stop at or push through and beyond the close-up when it is simultaneously in our space and not there at all?

In each of the films I have discussed, the dance types and narrative structures are not particularly innovative. Step Up 3D is the third in a series of Step Up films which include similar dance steps and competition plots and Streetdance 3D is clearly indebted to this format. In a similar way, Pina 3D replicates Bausch’s choreography that is already know globally and the combination of dance and documentary has been presented in other films. However, the examples that I have highlighted in these films suggest that there are qualities in the 3D moving images that distinguish their aesthetic approach from their 2D counterparts. In particular, the oscillation between immersion in the action and distance from it means that there is no stable viewing position on offer but rather a constant reinvention of the relationship between audience and filmed body. These films not only offer new ways of positioning the audience in relation to action but also produce alternative methods for stimulating our perceptive senses. Knowledge of 3D’s optical illusion is a constant reminder that objects can and cannot be in a shared embodied space with the audience. Stereographer, Lenny Lipton, suggests that the 3D effect produced by binocular vision is not the only way to perceive depth and spatial cues but it does produce a pleasurable way of experiencing the visual world. (49) It is within this pleasure that 3D films are able to offer a distinct quality to the dance genre and reconfigure the audience’s embodied position in relation to the body of the dancer.

This article has been peer reviewed.

Endnotes

  1. At the time of writing, none of the films under study were available on DVD in 3D. On the one hand, this posed obvious problems for a scholar such as myself who was accustomed to pausing, slowing and rewinding films in order to undertake detailed textual analysis of screen content. On the other hand, it forced me to engage with the experiential quality of what I had viewed in the movie theatre auditorium. For this reason I did not turn to the 2D versions of the DVDs in order to try to reconfigure an approximation of what I had witnessed. I would therefore ask forgiveness if my notes have served me wrong and there are any slippages in my recollection of the events in the films.
  2. Kate Muir, “Pina and Life in a Day at the Berlin Film Festival” in The Times, 14 February (2011) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/film/reviews/article2912277.ece
  3. Peter Bradshaw, “Pina” in The Guardian, 21 April (2011) http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/apr/21/pina-review
  4. Edward Porter, “Streetdance 3D” in The Sunday Times, 23 March (2010) http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/film_reviews/article7131199.ece
  5. Anna Smith, “Step Up 3D” in EmpireOnline, (2010) http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/review.asp?FID=136917
  6. Xan Brooks “Is James Cameron’s 3D movie Avatar the shape of cinema to come?” in The Guardian, Aug 20 (2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/aug/20/james-cameron-avatar-3d-film; Mark Prigg, “3D or not 3D: Avatar and Godfather directors go to war over technology” in The Evening Standard, May 13 (2010) http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23833677-3d-or-not-3d-avatar-and-godfather-directors-go-to-war-over-technology.do
  7. Thomas Elsaesser, “The Dimension of depth and objects rushing towards us” in, eDIT Filmmaker’s Magazin (2010) http://www.edit-frankfurt.de/en/magazine/ausgabe-12010/the-dimension-of-depth/the-dimesion-of-depth-and-objects-rushing-towards-us.html)
  8. Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde” in Thomas Elsaesser (ed.) Early Cinema: Space-frame-narrative (London: BFI Publishing, 1990), pp.57-62; William Paul, “The Aesthetics of Emergence” in Film History, 5:3 (1993), pp.321-355
  9. Dick Tomasovic, “The Hollywood Cobweb: New Laws of Attraction” in Wanda Strauven (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded (Amsterdam: Amsterdam Uni. Press, 2006) pp.309-320; Leon Gurevitch, “The Cinema of Interactions: Cinematics and the Game Effect in the Age of Digital Attractions” in Senses of Cinema 57(2010) http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature-articles/the- cinemas-of-interactions-cinematics-and-the-%E2%80%98game-effect%E2%80%99-in-the-age-of-digital-attractions/
  10. Elizabeth Coffman, “Women in Motion: Loie Fuller and the ‘Interpenetration’ of Art and Science’” in Camera Obscura, 17:1 (2002) pp. 73-105. p.79
  11. Although there is a focus on both male and female dancing figures in these films, Katharina Lindner highlights the way other twenty-first century dance films, particularly those concerned with ballet, often treat the female body in a particular way. Katharina Lindner, “Spectacular (Dis­) Embodiments: The Female Dancer on Film” in Scope, 20 (2011) pp.1-18
  12. Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions”, p. 59
  13. Pina has lengthy dance scenes that do not immediately fit with documentary modes but I have classed it as a documentary as the film is an attempt to draw a portrait of Pina Bausch that is completed through interviews with her dancers and archive footage of Pina dancing.
  14. See Tom Gunning, “Loïe Fuller and the Art of Motion: Body, Light, Electricity and the Origins of Cinema” in Richard Allen and Malcolm Turvey (eds.) Camera Obscura, Camera Lucida: Essays in Honour of Annette Michelson (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2003) pp.75-90; Noël Carroll, “Toward a Definition of Moving-Picture Dance” in Dance Research Journal 33:1 (2001) pp.46-6
  15. Laurent Guido, “Rhythmic Bodies/Movies: Dance as Attraction in Early Film Culture” in Wanda Strauven (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006) pp.139-156, p.141.
  16. Ray Zone, Stereocopic Cinema and the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838-1952 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007) p.44
  17. Guido, “Rhythmic Bodies” p.142
  18. Ray Zone, Stereocopic Cinema, p.37
  19. Gunning, “Loïe Fuller”
  20. Elizabeth Coffman, “Women in Motion: Loie Fuller and the “Interpenetration’ of Art and Science” in Camera Obscura, 17:1 (2002) pp. 73-105, p.76
  21. Coffman, “Women in Motion”, p.80
  22. Lynn Garafola, “Dance, Film, and the Ballets Russes” in Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research, 16:1 (1998) pp.3-25, p.15
  23. Lynn Garafola, “Dance, Film, and the Ballets Russes”., p.16
  24. Nicolas Dulac and André Gaudreault, “Circularity and Repetition at the Heart of the Attraction: Optical Toys and the Emergence of a New Cultural Series” in Wanda Strauven (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded (Amsterdam: Amsterdam Uni. Press, 2006), pp.227-245, p.230
  25. Pierre-Emmanuel Jacques, “The Associational Attractions of the Musical” in Wanda Strauven (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded (Amsterdam: Amsterdam Uni. Press, 2006), pp.281-290
  26. Paul, “The Aesthetics of Emergence”. Negative parallax refers to the ‘pop-out’ effect of 3D where it seems that objects exist in front of the screen and positive parallax is the opposite, when objects appear behind the screen.
  27. Russia IC, “First 3D Ballet TV Broadcasting from Mariinsky Theatre” in Russia IC, 6 April (2010) http://russia-ic.com/news/show/9957
  28. Tim Masters, “How the arts world is embracing 3D cinema” in BBC News, 31 March (2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12891882
  29. William Paul, “Breaking the Fourth Wall: ‘Belascoism’, Modernism and a 3-D Kiss Me Kate” in Film History, 16 (2004) pp.229-242, p.235
  30. Karen Pearlman, “If a dancing figure falls in the forest and nobody sees her…” in Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 7:2 (2010) pp. 236-248, p.238
  31. Georges Méliès cited in Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions”, p. 57
  32. Patrice Pavis, Analysing Performance (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2003) p.128
  33. Jennifer M. Barker, The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009) p.84
  34. William Paul, “Breaking the Fourth Wall”, p.20
  35. Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of films: the redemption of physical reality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), p.44
  36. Guido, “Rhythmic Bodies” p.150-151
  37. Surround sound also plays an important role but discussion of this factor is outside the scope of this article.
  38. Barker, The Tactile Eye
  39. Jean Epstein, “Magnification and Other Writings” in October, Vol 3: Spring (1977) pp.9-25, p.9
  40. Béla Balász, “The Close-Up (1945)” in Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (eds.) Film theory and criticism: introductory readings, 5th Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) pp.304-311, p.304
  41. Todd McGowan, “‘Maternity divided: Avatar and the enjoyment of nature” in Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, No.52 (2010) http://www.ejumpcut.org/currentissue/mcGowanAvatar/index.html)
  42. Mary Ann Doane, “The Close-up: Scale and Detail in the Cinema” in Differences, 14: 3 (2003) pp.89-111, p.108. Worth noting is that Laura Mulvey sees this stasis in the close-up as an opportunity to emphasise the female’s function as a spectacle: Laura Mulvey, Fetishism and Curiosity (Bloomington; Indiana University Press, 1996) p.41
  43. Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions”, p. 58
  44. Béla Balász, “The Close-Up”, p.306
  45. Mary Ann Doane, “The Close-up”
  46. Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of films, p.48; Epstein, “Magnification and Other Writings”, p.13
  47. Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of films, p.46-47
  48. Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of films. p.47
  49. Lenny Lipton, Foundations of the Stereoscopic Cinema (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982)

About The Author

Miriam Ross lectures in the Film Program at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.