‘Then Comes The Body’ Follows the Nigerian Ballet Academy That Stepped into the Global Spotlight
In June 2020, a clip of the then-11-year-old Anthony Mmesoma Madu dancing in a rain-soaked courtyard made the internet rounds. The video shows the young student gracefully performing on wet concrete, presumably demonstrating what he’s learned from Leap of Dance Academy. Located in Ajangbadi, Ojo, a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, the ballet school garnered global attention after that viral moment, including from prestigious organizations like the American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet, celebrities like Viola Davis, and the broader public.
A new documentary titled “Then Comes The Body,” directed by Jacob Krupnick of Wild Combination, pulls back the curtains on the genesis of the academy and follows its students, sharing their stories as individual artists and what it means to be part of a community with grand ambitions.
Established in 2017, Leap of Dance is the creation of Daniel Ajala, who began running the school out of his home as a way to offer free instruction to those who might want to pursue ballet as a profession. “I wanted, more than anything, to give that opportunity to those younger than myself so they wouldn’t miss their chance like I did,” Ajala said in an interview, noting that, since ballet isn’t widely practiced in Nigeria, he learned from YouTube. “It was too bad that I was as old as I was when I realized I wanted to dance.”
Krupnick first found out about the school and Ajala when much of the world did: with that first video of Madu. “Dance and movement are central to a lot of my films, and I always have an eye out for stories and collaborators that make me curious,” Krupnick says. “I’m a White filmmaker, and a theme that I’ve explored in my work is how it feels for non-White people to enter spaces where they haven’t historically felt welcome.”
After getting in touch with Ajala and learning more about his story, Krupnick traveled to Ajangbadi, where he spent time with the students in their neighborhood and learned more about their practices and dreams. This became the origin of the short film, which was created in partnership with Lagos-based producer Damilola Aleje. Showing the dancers atop yellow vans, moving in the streets, and teaching each other, the documentary offers insight into the immense impact of a single school. Leap of Dance, as the trailer shares, has already helped secure scholarships and performance opportunities for many involved, including Precious Duru and Olamide Olawale who, along with Ajala, narrate the film.
Premiering this June at Tribeca Film Festival, “Then Comes The Body” is an encouraging look at the power of expression and community and asserts that, as Ajala says, “ballet is here to stay.” (via Kottke)
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Craft Dance Science
Trick Facial Recognition Software into Thinking You’re a Zebra or Giraffe with These Pyschedelic Garments
Here’s some unusual criteria to consider when deciding what to wear: if you’re scanned by facial-recognition software, do you prefer being detected as a zebra, giraffe, or a dog? Cap_able, an Italian fashion-meets-tech startup, prompts consumers to consider individual rights to privacy when making decisions about self-expression. The studio’s inaugural project, the Manifesto Collection, combines knitwear with an algorithm into a kind of 21st-century camouflage that protects the wearer’s biometric data without the need to conceal the face.
Built on ideas of collaboration and awareness, Cap_able was established in 2019 to fuse technology, textiles, and fashion into a high-tech product with everyday applications. Evocative of Magic Eye puzzles, the technology behind the Manifesto Collection‘s psychedelic patterns is an innovative system “capable of transposing images called adversarial patches onto a knitted fabric that can be used to deceive people detectors in real time,” the company says.
“Choosing what to wear is the first act of communication we perform every day. (It’s) a choice that can be the vehicle of our values,” says co-founder and CEO Rachele Didero. Likening the commodification of data to that of oil and its ability to be sold and traded by corporations for enormous sums—often without our knowledge—Didero describes mission of Cap_able as “opening the discussion on the importance of protecting against the misuse of biometric recognition cameras.” When a person dons a sweater, dress, or trousers woven with an adversarial image, their face is no longer detectable, and it tricks the software into categorizing them as an animal rather than a human.
The idea for the startup was planted in 2019 when Didero enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she was introduced to topics and issues around privacy and human rights. The idea of combining fashion and computer science evolved during months of research in working with textiles and studying artificial intelligence. She developed the now-patented concept of knitting adversarial imagery directly into the fabric of the garments, giving them the ability to respond to an individual’s size and shape, as opposed to existing versions which could only be applied to surfaces. After developing prototypes and testing the patterns using different types of recognition software, Didero teamed up with business partnert Federica Busani to launch the first collection.
Unlike most clothing items you’ll find on the rack, Cap_able’s garments are accompanied by some unique fine print: “The Manifesto Collection‘s intent is not to create an invisibility cloak, rather, it is to raise awareness and protect the rights of the wearer wherever possible.” See the full collection on Cap_able’s website.
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Lithe Figures Cast in Bronze by Coderch & Malavia Mimic Gracefully Choreographed Movements
From their recently relocated studio in Ribarroja de Turia, Valencia, Coderch & Malavia (previously) sculpt dancers and precariously posed figures frozen mid-movement. Swirling locks of hair sweep upward into the air, a long scarf billows sideways in folds and wrinkles, and a childlike character balances on a totemic stump with crows perched nearby. Mimicking the grace and exactitude of skilled ballerinas, the sculptures are poetic and intimate as they capture fleeting moments in patinaed bronze.
A new work, “Giant of Salt,” is a collaboration with the Costa Rican dancer Fred Herrera, whose known for his production of the same name. Spanning nearly four meters and weighing 1,350 kilos, the large-scale sculpture depicts a nude figure in a low backbend, head resting on the ground with hands upturned toward the sky. Coderch & Malavia derived the pose from Herrera’s choreographed piece, which is created in the style of Japanese dance theatre known as Butoh and features slow, writhing movements.
Currently, the duo is working on a collection of works related to Russia’s war in Ukraine and preparing for a February exhibition at an outdoor sculpture park in Almacelles, Spain, and a solo show slated for April in Paris. Follow updates on their latest projects on Instagram.
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Art Dance Design
In the World of WearableArt, 88 Dramatic Garments Grace the Stage in a Spectacular Performance
Every year in Wellington, dozens of extravagant garments explode onto the stage for three weeks as part of the World of WearableArt competition. The annual performance is New Zealand’s largest theatrical production that highlights vast creativity translated through fashion and costume from around the globe. Of the 88 works from 103 international designers in this year’s contest, many are interpretations of the natural world with dried grasses pouring from sleeves and sculptural dresses mimicking coral patterns. No matter the materials or aesthetic, all of the garments have a flair for the dramatic.
In the 32 years since the competition launched, WOW has featured more than 5,000 garments on its stages, and it’s worth a visit to the contest’s site to peruse the archive.
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Art Dance History Music Photography
30,000 Photographs of Black History and Culture Are Available From Getty’s Archive
From a black-and-white portrait of a reclined James Baldwin to a candid shot of a father and daughter on a Harlem park bench, a new archive from Getty grants open access to thousands of images devoted to Black history and culture. The massive collection—which was developed with historians and educators Dr. Deborah Willis, Jina DuVernay, Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, Dr. Mark Sealy MBE, and Renée Mussai—comprises 30,000 photographs taken in the U.S. and U.K. that are available for free non-commercial, educational use. Applications for access are open now.
Organized by decade from the 1800s to the 2020s, the Black History & Culture Collection offers a broad, varied look at the people, events, and undeniably influential movements that continue to shape life today. The collection is further searchable by type and subject matter, which encompasses everything from art and entertainment to politics and sports. You can find a curated selection of images from the multimedia platform Black Archives, which partnered with Getty to shine light on specific moments from the collection. (via Peta Pixel)
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Art Dance History Photography
Dances and Branches: Colossal’s Most-Read Stories of 2021
We spent the last year collaborating with creatives from every corner of the planet to publish nearly 700 articles and interviews that range from art, design, and photography to science and history. As we plan our coverage for 2022, we’re looking back at some of the stories you read most (thank you!). And in case you missed it, make sure you check out Colossal’s favorite short films and books from 2021, too.
Nine Massive Waves of Deadwood Surge Across a Forest Floor Near Hamburg
Between November 2020 and March 2021, Jörg Gläscher gathered deadwood and constructed nine massive crests that overwhelm the forest floor in undulating layers of branches and twigs.
Mammoth Straw Creatures Populate Japanese Farmland in the Annual Wara Art Festival
Enormous tarantulas, eagles, and dinosaur-like creatures occupy Japan’s Niigata Prefecture as part of the Wara Art Festival, a summertime event that displays massive animals and mythical creations fashioned from the rice crop’s leftover straw.
An Intimate Photographic Series Glimpses the Lives of the Children Who Fish in Ghana’s Lake Volta
Photographer Jeremy Snell unveils the more sinister side of Ghana’s Lake Volta through an intimate and profound series documenting the lives of the children working in the region.
‘Beneath the Bird Feeder’ Documents the Spectacular Wildlife Visiting a Wintertime Food Source
During the winter months of late 2020 into early 2021, Carla Rhodes photographed a diverse cast of cold-weather adventurers, including a brilliant northern cardinal, numerous pairs of mourning doves, and furry little field mice, that visited her birdfeeder.
Impasto Marks and Thick Dabs of Paint Render Dreamy Landscapes in Rich Layers of Color
Russian artist Anastasia Trusova works in a style she terms “textured graphic impressionism” that involves deftly layering acrylic paints into lush foliage, clouds, and fields of wildflowers.
A Restored Vermeer Painting Reveals a Hidden Cupid Artwork Hanging in the Background
2021 changed the way we understand a 17th-century painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. What was once thought to be a somewhat glum depiction of a young girl was revealed to be an amorous portrayal complete with a naked Cupid in the background.
Cheeky Busts by Gerard Mas Are Sculpted with a Contemporary Twist
The women artist Gerard Mas sculpts are spirited and unconventional as they blow a wad of bubblegum, sport visible tan lines, or unabashedly dig in their noses. Each corset-clad figure is steeped in humor and wit as it casts a contemporary light on the traditional form.
Herds of Life-Sized Elephants Roam Through London’s Parks for a Global Conservation Project
Sixty migrating elephants passed between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace in London’s Green Park earlier this year as one of nine herds roaming throughout the city. The lumbering creatures are part of a collaboration that explores how humans can better live alongside animals.
Ceramic Mosaics Mend Cracked Sidewalks, Potholes, and Buildings in Vibrant Interventions by Ememem
Throughout his home city of Lyon, Ememem is known as “the pavement surgeon” because he repairs gouged sidewalks with colorful mosaics.
A Mesmerizing Dance Performance for the Paralympics Hand-Off Ceremony Choreographed by Sadeck Waff
As part of a closing hand-off ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, choreographer Sadeck Waff worked with 128 performers in a dizzying performance focused on arms and hands.
Chicago’s Manual Cinema Reveals How Its Shadow Puppets Became a Defining Feature of the New ‘Candyman’
Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is deeply rooted in Chicago’s history and draws in local artists, like the talented team at Manual Cinema. Colossal editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson interviewed co-artistic director Drew Dir when the film was released to discuss the unprecedented process of using shadow puppets in a blockbuster live-action film, experimenting with the technical limits of the medium, and conveying a story of racism and trauma.
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Editor's Picks: Dance
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