Dancing & Dreaming: “Fifty Years of British Music Video” in Havana
Emily Caston and Justin Smith
Abstract: This report reflects on a follow-on initiative from the AHRC-funded project “Fifty Years of British Music Video” designed to explore a collaboration between Cuba’s dance, film, and music cultures to create non-performance-based dance videos. Facilitated by service company Island Pictures, we worked with a young director, Giselle Garcia Castro, dancers at Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, and leading Cuban rap artist Telmary. The result was a single-shot video for Telmary’s “Soy el Verso” (2018), filmed in the dance studio, based on an improvisation guided by Giselle, and inspired by the José Martí poem in the song. The video fulfilled PI Caston’s ambition to break down the barrier between “dance film” and “music video” by building the choreography from the lyrics and making it the centre of the exercise. It endorsed Caston’s conceptual aim to encourage practitioners to identify and articulate their own narrative and iconography. The team also produced a fifteen-minute documentary of the process including interviews with filmmakers, teachers and students. The project demonstrated that academic collaboration with artistic communities can stimulate new creative practices and economic development. It also showed how creative industries researchers can use networks established by institutions such as the British Council and British Embassies to exchange media practice.