06/30/11

When I was 20 I dropped out of college and started a network for girls and women making movies called Joanie 4 Jackie. It was very lo-fi; women would send me their short movies and I would send them back a tape with 9 other movies on it, plus their own. At that time it wasn’t so easy to share videos and knowing other young women filmmakers made me feel like I was part of something important – my plan was to share that feeling and create a, like, revolution. Over the next eight years, as I taught myself filmmaking, I compiled and disseminated more than a hundred and fifty movies made by other women. I mailed VHS tapes via the US Postal Service and drove around the country with a video projector, trying to create an audience for something I myself wanted more of.

If someone had told me that in 15 years there would be thousands of videos made by girls in their bedrooms I would not have been surprised; I knew it was the perfect medium for people who are raised to be self-conscious anyway. But I never would have guessed that most of these videos would be of girls DANCING.
Type “me dancing” into YouTube if you don’t know what I mean. Are these women thinking of themselves as directors? Probably not. Are they bored and wanting attention? Probably. I know I was bored and wanted attention the first time I turned on the camera. But now the camera is always on, and the audience is always there.

I was watching a lot of these videos when I was writing the script for The Future. The character I was writing for myself, Sophie, was a dancer, but she was (of course) my age, so she was a little too old to be a YouTube dancer. But I imagined she would be mesmerized by how easily these younger women made their dances and put them out there and got an immediate response. They loved to dance, and they loved to be watched, by strangers. For me an audience seems to promise a kind of deliverance that never comes. And I love to wait, believing that it still might, one day.

This is dicey territory, because of course I, Miranda, am also a woman who makes movies of herself, albeit on a larger scale. Doing that is already pretty tough, so it felt almost reckless to associate myself with these women and girls who are so easily ridiculed. But don’t forget, for me this all began, my whole career began, with Joanie 4 Jackie. So when I watched the “me dancing” videos I could not dismiss them. In fact, viewed en masse, they were like one big daring, poignant, funny, heartbreaking exquisite dance. Or at least a pretty bright fucking flare saying We are, actually, here. I for one would like to respond to that flare.

So serious and so much done with such a tiny bit of space.

Her world seems like a really dramatic, romantic place.

Headless!

I Ask Of You: Yes, I really do want to see you dance, in your own particular way, to your favorite danceable music. But I don’t want to see your face. Either keep your back to the camera the whole time or make sure that your head is cut off, no matter where you are in the room, and then: GO FOR IT! A sad dance. A complex mixed feelings dance. A dance of love. A dance where you barely move! A dance that you can do secretly where it looks like you are working! You can do no wrong. Title your dance: A ____________ Dance, so we know what kind it is (fill in the blank.)

6 Comments

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6 Responses to Me Dancing

  1. chelsie says:

    Dear Miranda July,

    Today me and my friend Danielle responded to your dance video challenge. We had so much fun and felt so liberated afterward, so we have decided to make a dance video every day this week and upload it to to here: http://danchezproductions.tumblr.com/

    I hope you can stop by.

    Love and thanks,
    Chelsie,

    P.S. You are so fucking great. Thanks for inspiring us.

  2. Minty Ryan says:

    A Midnight, Trying It Out Dance

  3. Julia says:

    A Foot and Hand Dance (to Human Racing – St.Vincent)

  4. chelsie says:

    a paranoid dance

  5. Denise says:

    A Boxed In Dance

  6. hurricaneofhampsters says:

    a sexy dance

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