Gaia – Mysterious Rhythms is a dance-ritual performed by a young woman on the seashore. The dance unfolds a rite of passage and a process of transformation, through the woman’s interaction with the elements of the natural environment: the rhythms and features of the earth, sea, moon and sun.
In formal terms, Gaia was set out to explore the notion of screen choreography through a subtle, poetic and reflective interplay of images of the body and the environment. In terms of content, the woman’s performance is perceived as a source of metaphoric and archetypal imagery that highlights the intricate relationship between body, psyche and the world.
Excerpt from Dance on Screen: About the film
The protagonist, a young woman undertaking the passage, is going through a process of transformation, which is linked to the living elements of the natural environment. She exists within a self-contained universe, a world in which natural elements such as earth, sea, sky, and sun are key players. She reflects her environment, and nature is being reflected through her by means of visual montage and visual metaphors. In addition, she tends to dissolve into the elements from which she emerges, for example, she frequently dissolves into the sea and fades in from the sea and into being. She exists both as a concrete figure and a reflection, showing a constant state of flux. She divides herself into other selves, thus, denoting a state of inner conflict or the ability to expand and manifest the self beyond physical limits.
The rite begins at dawn when the moon is still above the sea and the tide is out, and finishes at dusk when the sun dissolves into the sea. Each scene is a stage in a transformation process and composed of a specific activity. The driving force leading to the rite is born of the woman’s longing to overcome terrestrial and man-made limitations, discover her identity by bonding with the natural environment and fulfill her destiny along with the rhythms of nature. The rhythms of the natural world often contradict human rational thought […] Therefore, by positioning the protagonist in the midst of a large process of change, which is evident in all aspects of nature, and within the cyclic context of a day progressing from morning to night, her personal rite is performed within a universal context of transformation.
The protagonist’s rite takes place within the duration of a day, and what makes that day unique is her activity. However, she exists only for that purpose, and just within that particular framework of time. She has no identity outside her role in the rite, and does not exist in other dimensions of space and time. Therefore, she can be perceived as existing in an enclosed world, and in a state of ‘eternal present’, i.e., an approach to the concept of time as an undivided, continuous phenomenon which exists beyond terrestrial limitations, and western culture’s rational perception of time through the ticking clock. This approach is associated with the concept of ‘mythopoetic thought’, which has been used to describe the concept of time as perceived by early people and American Indian tribes, such as the Hopi who lived in ‘eternal present’ and did not even have a word for time, just as their verses had no tenses.
Gaia is a film made within the tradition of experimental, poetic and art film-making concerned with personal ritual and myth-making, and is preoccupied with the initiation of a single protagonist, and visual vocabulary inspired by ancient mythology and archetypal forms. In its approach to the idea of ritual, Gaia is inspired by Maya Deren’s film Ritual in Transfigured Time from 1946.
The dance ritual film was made as part of a practice-based Ph.D degree in Dance on Screen at Middlesex University, UK (1997-2001). The PhD thesis includes a chapter with an in-depth analysis of the film. The film was created, directed and choreographed by Lila Moore with a grant from Middlesex University. It is 20 minutes in duration and was screened in international festivals and art venues.
In addition, the Gaia project includes immersive and contemplative video segments, performed photography series, as well as holistic movement meditation programme for women developed in collaboration with holistic movement experts. Online lectures, classes and networked rites based on themes and concepts from Gaia – Mysterious Rhythms by Dr Lila Moore are available. For more info, subscribe to Dr Lila Moore Cybernetic Futures Inst. monthly newsletter, here: http://www.cyberneticinstitute.com/online-courses-1
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