For a film that deals with the conflict between urban and rural environments, the power of Scapelands seems to have grown over time.
The dangerous proximity of people is a potentially life-threatening scenario. The mental health issues of living within a built environment that has the sense of prison about it have double down, what with the restrictions, physical health implications and lack of natural outside spaces.
Scapelands is a short dance film that has added to the eloquence of that need for natural freedom. The movements have managed to key into some fundamental human feelings, which have been allowed the scope to fly.
Scapelands begins with Rose Sall Sao wistfully looking out of her window to the urban landscape, kettle bubbling. It’s a moment of calm, because as soon as she’s out the door, it’s city-time. Bumps, precede a set of beautifully non-verbal recriminations. It’s a cacophony of encroachment, until Rose steps into an alley to find some space and release.
Here she fights against her own environment to escape into to a new one. There’s a call of the sea, of space. The choreography fixes her in the hustle and bustle, and others join her in the city dance along with the combined desire to freedom. The camera cuts in with images of the urban. And it strays into the rural, to a more balanced vista. There is Rose on a beach, free, on her own. Her movements, slower and calmer, breathing in the sunset.
Clever and subtle choreography
Rose conveys the strictures of the city and the freedom of the rural with the clever and subtle choreography. Filmmakers Katie Beard and Naomi Turner (LeMoon) are intent on capturing more than a story, they seem to be able to get under the physical movement to explore something more fundamental.
Physical space and mental health
Filmed at in locations in London and Beachy Head in East Sussex, Katie and Naomi have said the film explores the impact of physical space and mental health, with the divide between urban environments and rural areas being not only physical, but also psychological.
Running at around the four-minute mark, Scapelands is an escape, an aspiration and an example of the intricate ability of choreography, sound, movement, performance and directing to explore issues, emotions and well-being.
Catch Scapelands on Dance on the BBC, introduced by Carlos Acosta (it’s 36 minutes in)
The film is expected to drop on the BBC’s New Creative site soon.