Early on in Lucy Guerin’s Motion Picture, the audience watches dancers who are watching a film on a screen at the back of the auditorium, and mimicking its dialogue. Their lip-syncing is meticulous, and they hop on their chairs to show changes in camera angle. When there is a kiss, they rub their cheeks together without losing sight of the moving images.
Guerin, a leading Australian choreographer, has set herself a curious challenge with this work, given its Paris premiere at the Théâtre des Abbesses. The film being imitated is D.O.A., a classic film noir by Rudolph Maté, released in 1950. Guerin and her six dancers strive to use it as a “score” while it is being shown in its entirety; the mime gives way to more imaginative choreographic digressions, but the concept eventually reaches a dead end.
The first half of Motion Picture does make for an intriguing comparison….