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The Making of the Classical Sequence Companion DVD

The Making of the Classical Sequence Companion DVD

1 October 2010

Promoting Sequence dancing to the UK and abroad

The suggestion that producing a DVD of some of the syllabus dances would be a good way to promote Classical Sequence both at home and overseas was greeted with general enthusiasm by the Sequence Faculty. The concept seemed a simple one but now as we launch the product almost two years later we realise what a huge undertaking it was.

It was decided that the DVD would cover those dances from the syllabus which were used in the Grade examinations, 17 in total, including the Classical Sequence Waltz. In addition we wanted to cover the technical terms relevant to those dances and which form the basis of Classical Sequence technique. We wanted to include sufficient detail to assist prospective professional examination candidates or teachers training pupils for ISTD examinations and medallist competitions but also make it relevant to the students themselves.

The main drivers behind the production of such a DVD were twofold. Firstly we were aware that anyone who was unfamiliar with the genre would find it difficult to understand what was required simply by reading the charts. Furthermore some of the dances we use are not in fact charted and so the only description available is a script which may not contain all the relevant details required. Secondly there is little material available to promote the style in overseas markets. What material is available is aimed more at the social dancer than the professional candidate or medallist. Whilst it is intended that the DVD be used alongside the charts and in conjunction with a teacher, the Faculty took the view that a DVD would be the most useful medium to generate interest in the genre in areas where regular access to a good teachers is limited, particularly abroad.

Having established our criteria and objectives, we set about establishing how we were going to move forward. In the first instance we needed to obtain permission from the copyright holders of the dances we wished to use, namely the British Dance Council. Next we had to obtain permission to use the music to accompany the dancing. We explored the possibility of having music written for the purpose but this proved prohibitively expensive.

Finding a production company was the next headache and the one we decided to use was unavailable by the time we were in a position to begin filming, leaving us to begin our search once again. Fortunately we came across someone who proved both helpful and flexible during the process, essential qualities since none of us had any prior experience at producing a DVD.

Filming began in October last year and although we had written a script and rehearsed the format we wanted to use, it soon became apparent that the one day of filming we originally envisaged was rather ambitious (in fact it took two and a half days in the end). Whilst retakes were relatively minimal the process relied on demonstrators, narrator and cameraman all performing perfectly first time which of course did not always happen. This was no Hollywood Blockbuster but it did give all of us some appreciation of how difficult putting together a motion picture must be especially as we were in a relatively controlled studio environment and (unfortunately) not some exotic location.

Having congratulated ourselves on finally completing the filming we now only had the ‘easy’ task of editing which proved to be anything but. With about 12 hours of filming to cut and edit the filmmaker had his work cut out but nevertheless did an excellent job. However, not being a dancer or understanding the subject (at least when he began!) proved a drawback at times and therefore he required some assistance in achieving the effect we wanted to show.

If we wanted to alter something or make changes this could affect the whole timeline of the film and so following the changes we would then need to re-watch the whole DVD to check that it hadn’t affected something else later on. With a total running time of three hours for the two DVDs this was naturally a time consuming process.

As we breathe a sigh of relief on completing the project and launching it at the Worthing Congress we ask ourselves, was it all worth it? Of course it was and we are keen to begin work on the sequel!

The DVD is available to purchase through the ISTD Shop priced at £22.50. We hope that you enjoy it and find it useful.

Robert Aldred

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