News: City, dance and camera - Moving Cities

Tuesday 10 February 2015 by Carmel Smith

Moving Cities

Excited by the possibilities of movement in cities, in dance and on camera, Jevan Chowdhury, Director of the London based creative agency Wind and Foster set up Moving Cities last year. Starting with London, he’s moved on to make films featuring international dancers and real settings in Paris, Brussels, Yeravan (Armenia) and Prague, amongst others, picking up Film Festival Awards and recognition in London, Los Angeles, Seoul, Stockholm, Rome, Clermont Ferrand and São Carlos. We wanted to find out more…

Where did the idea for Moving Cities come from?
I set up Moving Cities in February 2014 to explore the three tiers of movement I am most interested in – city, dance and camera.
I’d already completed a series of dance film commissions for Westfield and East London Dance in 2013 and wanted to pursue the marriage of dance and city. Moving Cities was also inspired by Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities which explores the imagination and the imaginable through the description of magical realist cities.

Why dance?
I learnt Russian Ballet for two years as a child. Now as a filmmaker I’ve rekindled my interest. I love dance in all forms choreographed or un-choreographed. I find rhythmic movement fascinating.

Do you work with local choreographers/dancers in each city?
I partner with film and dance companies in each city to help cast and artistically produce in their city. Dance groups usually arrive with choreographers but individuals tend to choreograph their own phrases. What’s crucial is the ability to respond to non-dance spaces in an un-choreographed fashion.

You do a lot of filming on busy streets – how do you cope with sometimes quite dangerous looking situations?
In Moving Prague, all traffic was held and moved to work for cameras. We notified tram drivers on location and timed dancers and choreography accordingly. The only thing we couldn’t schedule were underground trains.

Which city so far has been the most challenging?
Paris has been the most challenging. Like all cities we had worked in advance with local municipal authorities to obtain necessary permissions but it was one of the very first productions and we were hugely limited on resources.

And which most enjoyable?
All cities have been thrilling but Yerevan in Armenia was a special place. Unbeknownst to the world it has a huge dance culture and its history is embedded into every man and woman you meet.

In London the tube gave you lots of dramatic settings – were you restricted to particular stations?
I completed two films in 2013-14 for the Institution of Civil Engineers and Transport for London and was lucky to have experienced filming under the Thames, in Blackfriars Sewer and in the vast underground space that will soon accommodate Crossrail. The Moving London Boroughs project we’re developing should hopefully include some of this unseen London.

Your latest film, Moving Prague, looks like your biggest production to date – with 58 dancers & a wider range of dance styles. Are you learning more from every shoot?
As a non-dancer each process is highly educational. Prague owes lots to the local production team Festival Tanecnich Film that brought me over. The aim is to just get bigger, better and more ambitious. I’d like to capture topical European cities such as Kiev, Ukraine. How do Ukranian people feel right now? Could there be a dance response? What is the situation in the city? Outside of performance dance can play a strong role in expressing a societal thought.

We’ve just completed shooting in Athens and I’m awestruck by what we’ve captured. The Greeks are entering a turbulent time in their history and I believe this has heavily influenced the choreography. I hope to share this by Spring 2015.

Have you considered shooting in any other UK cities?
We have exciting conversations taking place with National Dance Company Wales about the possibly of making Moving Cardiff. We are also applying to Arts Council England to make Moving Southwark, the first in a series of five Moving London boroughs. With many complex topics that differentiate London communities we believe dance is the perfect language and the perfect narrative construct from which to present the diversity of London.

You are associated with the upcoming dance industry wide conference, organised by Dance UK…
Dance UK is a hugely supportive organisation. I hugely value the work they are doing to promote dancers health and supportive of the upcoming industry wide conference and its goals. They’ve supported Moving Cities from the outset and have help us in our goal of engaging with non-dance audiences. The Moving Cities project is only eleven months old and we are currently developing a Moving London sequel to celebrate the project’s first year. If you’d like to be involved, get in touch –

Your Comments

  1. Rowan George 12 February 2015

    Such an exciting project!

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