- 21 Jan 21
Dublin-born, Sydney-based director Sinéad McDevitt is celebrating Irish contemporary composer Úna Keane's stunning new live album 'Collaborations' with dance video 'Silvaticus' - set to premiere on the Hot Press YouTube channel tonight at 8pm.
Hot Press are delighted to premiere the gorgeous dance video for Silvaticus - filmed on Samsung Galaxy Note during the Covid-19 lockdown and shot by Irish director Sinéad McDevitt.
McDevitt's distinctive visual storytelling style, designed to spark human connection, infuses all of her film and commercial work. Based in Australia, she has written and directed award-winning short films, - including Ballsy and music/dance film The Ocean for Wallis Bird among others, as well as the creation of long-form documentary TV format The Love Experiment. Represented in Australia/NZ by Sam I Am, McDevitt's latest dance video features the music of Úna Keane and dancer Jana Castillo.
Paying tribute to Irish classically-trained, minimalist pianist and composer Keane's live album Collaborations; the track 'Silvaticus' was recorded in a 172 year-old Victorian railway worker’s cottage in Dublin and explores themes of connection, communication and flow.
An exploration of freedom in restriction, dance video Silvaticus features award-winning Australian contemporary dancer Jana Castillo breaking free from the constraints of her disability through the wilds of memory.
With music and birdsong captured on a handheld field-recorder for composer Úna Keane's track of the same title – the film attempts to convey dancer Jana Castillo’s struggle with both autism and dystonia, the latter a highly disabling condition which first struck the artist seven years ago out of the blue.
While dormant most of the time, dystonia spontaneously traps and holds Castillo hostage inside the four walls of her body. Robbed of speech and the ability to walk during these times, the dancer’s mind is the only thing that can break free until it passes.
“There are times when we want to fly away, but can’t. My collaboration with director Sinéad McDevitt and composer Úna Keane is an exploration of freedom in restriction," Castillo says of the project.
"The hay bales on our remote family farm in Narraburra (rural New South Wales) have always been a special space for me. This was a cherished childhood place that supported magic, encouraged play and left me drenched in connection, clarity and freedom. It felt like the perfect location to bring the untamed aspect of our artwork to life in film and dance – juxtaposed with the interior of isolated empty church.”
On the approach for Silvaticus, director Sinéad McDevitt says that she wanted the film to be made using only the most essential tools and elements.
“This minimalist, pared-back approach was a conscious nod to the limits imposed upon Jana during a severe dystonic episode. She can still breathe, she can still see, she can click with her mouth to communicate ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – and that’s about it, until it decides to leave her body.
"We used Samsung Galaxy Note as our single camera, with piano and wild birdsong as the soundtrack – composed and recorded by Úna Keane on a humble handheld field-recorder," Sinéad continues. "We shot on location in rural Australia during COVID-19 lockdown. Jana’s performance was choreographed using Úna’s soundscape, recorded 10,000 miles away in Ireland. This was our further attempt to convey Jana’s brain and body disconnected - simultaneously existing in two separate places until it's reconnected again. Dance is like a magical re-connector for her. When she's able to move her body freely again after an episode, you can almost see this soft light filling her up again - it's beautiful to watch."
Composer Úna Keane describes the whirlwind of emotions she felt while watching the first edit of Silvaticus.
“I cried the first time I saw the short film – because Jana’s dancing is so perfectly in tune with the music. She managed to capture the essence of the piece in even the most subtle of ways. Her brave boldness in expressing herself resonates deeply with how I felt when composing the music. A singular, raw connection to self, to nature, to light. And Sinéad captures all this with her signature attention to detail – with such a breath-taking use of light, of shade and everything in between. It’s very moving to watch.”
Watch the compelling new dance video for Silvaticus at 8pm tonight, premiering exclusively on the Hot Press YouTube channel below: