Original Article in Spanish can be Read HERE.
PATRICIO SOTO-AGUILAR AND HIS VIDEO DANCE
“Patricio Soto – Aguilar creates and alchemy with movement almost imperceptible, and is a merit of his work”
Since he was in high school, Patricio created images. Then, he made high school presentation with the computer, already using audio-visual tools. One teacher, encouraged him to continue working with this support, for example, by making video clips. In some way, he says, “in my high school I was given space to develop my creativity”. Which has grown, without a doubt, significantly up to the present.
During his undergraduate studies, he had mainly a producer role, and after graduating he focused in technical roles. But his résumé (he studied Film and Television, Bachelor in Social Communication, and MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from King´s College London in the United Kingdom) was focused in animation, corporate and advertising content, and at that time he had not directed.
In one occasion, a Chilean producer suggested to him that he needed to acquire tools and experience in fiction and directing actors. From that moment, a series of events unfold, and today Patricio is a filmmaker with a level of specialization relevant in video dance and dance films.
For the team of this magazine is more than pertinent to introduce his filmography: “The Tree-Lined Avenues and How I Lost”(2010), was awarded the Opera Prima recognition in the Video Dance Festival UArcis 2011, and was finalist at the Plataforma (Surreal) Festival 2012 in Berlin. “Dominio” (2016), Best Experimental Film at the Oxford International Film Festival 2016, Special Jury Mention at the Manchester Film Festival 2017 and was present in the international circuit, being exhibited in Greece, by invitation in New Delhi, and the Bafta Qualifier Aesthetica Film Festival 2016. “Cuesta”(2019), was filmed in Valparaíso and premiered in March 2019 in Rennes, France at the Ciné-Corp Festival and exhibited in London. “Close Quarters”(2019), in post-production. Additionally, he was commissioned a tribute video to the trajectory of Carmen Beuchat, and directed promotional content for a dance show by Paulina Mellado.
Before this extensive and successful trajectory, it is necessary to highlight a reflection centered in the fact that any dancer that witness his dance films will notice that it does not necessarily exist a correspondence between his knowledge regarding human movement, fluidity and the scenic presence what can be seen on screen. On this accord, in the work of the filmmaker not only effectively trained bodies are shown, but there is also a narrative that allows the interpretation of his creation, feature that attracts attention. Particularly is indispensable to highlight his precision and the rigour with which subtle small gestures are shown through close up shots, emphasizing the video. This is probably related with the methodology that the author has been shaping in his work. Since the beginning he explored and inquired into his role as a director, in terms of the body, the movement, and dance as a limited and concrete space of creation, with its internal logics as how to structure processes and work. Therefore, he proposed to incorporate the camera also in rehearsals. Also, friendship and trust were key to situate improvisation as a creative resource that guides the whole teams work.
With two high school friends he shared his passion for performing arts, both of them actresses and Patricio interested in movement being portrayed on screen.
In 2011 he began to think how to structure an original idea in a short film with dance in it. They travel to Algarrobo and films his first short film “The Tree-Lined Avenues and How I Lost”. It is fundamental, that he recorder all of the rehearsals, the camera was used to film the improvisations and by reviewing the recordings, Patricio would communicate what movements work so can be fixed, and from there choreographic works is directed towards a new improvisation.
In “Dominio”, the filmmaker decided to use the National Stadium as a location. He worked the choreography from sports as a starting point. He wanted to put emphasize a critical perspective over the body and how it is used in high performance sports. He thinks that, “it’s a paradox that sportsmen prepare themselves with intensity and discipline for five years to show their talent in less than five minutes of competition”. Consequently, he put his attention in the beauty of the human body in action and in the fact that, “in sports a sort of spontaneous choreography emerges, in an organic way”. With his short film, Patricio wanted to highlight that “as society we forget how much we demand from our bodies on a daily basis”.
Patricio had the chance to work with Chilean choreographer Paulina Mellado, witnessing the creative process behind a dance show that used flashlights. In that context it didn’t make sense to make a global video from far away and, “as some level of obscurity was involved, it wasn’t possible either to film correctly what happened in a medium shot, from a certain distance”. On the contrary, it was adequate and necessary to film as close as it was possible and shoot close-ups, “it was the only thing that worked out”.
The premise for his last film “Close Quarters”, was proxemics. The starting point was Patricio’s return to Chile after his studies in United Kingdom, impacted strongly by the use of public transport in Santiago, and what happens in the underground. He warns the existential consequences: “At 8 am, crowded, to have to push away to manage to be expelled out of the coach, are systems that make people, us the users, become violent”. Consequently, he decided to create a visual speech addressing this, that allows for reflection and provides insight of our local reality, although considering the universality of transport systems globally.
Nevertheless, he doesn’t experience this from a rational stance or an abstract distance, as he mentions: “I like to feel the film working from my stomach”. There is a creative purpose, and a focus, but the visceral and intuitive has a place and is legitimated. Also, regarding this film, it was essential the work of choreographer Marco Orellana, who got together the professional dancers that took part in the project, he highlights “although not being payed and just out of commitment with the project”. Probably it was the freedom what motivated the dancers to take part of it, “Marco was in charge of the choreographic direction and rehearsals” and Patricio did not intervened, “only once I had enough media shot from rehearsal, and had filmed the details I wanted whilst the dancers were feeling and expressing what came to them, I took control of the video”.
He was interested to elaborate a visual speech, the movement sequences and the temporality of the film in relation to a narrative that gave sense to the whole project.
The aim of “Close Quarters” is narrative, and the choreography contributes mainly being a support of an expressive gesture that manifests through details: “the process was to capture subtle gestures, and afterwards invite the choreographer to take the performers to those places that where being interesting and emotionally and sensory provocative, and re-shoot, and so several times”.
DANCE BREAKS INTO HIS FUTURE
Patricio’s trajectory has allowed him to stand out. In particular, is relevant to mention that whilst in the majority of video dance and art film festivals the creators are visual artists or dancers that decide to use the camera, in the case of Patricio his becoming was different: he approached the world of dance.
In international Festivals he has seen that his films have diversity of reactions. In Italy or Brazil he has been invited to exhibit his work. In France he was invited to showcase his films by the curatorial team of the encounters, and has not applied to be part of them. In Argentina he went as a guest, joined by Mayo Rodríguez and Elisa Domínguez, founders of Bestias Danzantes Film Festival. Whilst he was living in United Kingdom he exhibited his work within a multicultural context and noticed how Chinese for example, have a more intellectual approach to his films, whilst Europeans feel addressed by its visual discourse.
The author comes from the animation world, he is a caring professional in regards of what happens in a smaller scale, he says that “in dance I found a way of communicating without words and oral dialogue”. Dance in Patricio found a passionate person for the small and quiet, that once evidenced on screen becomes heightened and alive.
In regards of the latter, even the eroticism, well achieved in the images of “Close Quarters”, and the transgression of the other’s space that become evident in this film, have an effect of exacerbating the attention of the audience toward what is being shown, and surprises.
We could say that Patricio Soto–Aguilar creates and alchemy with movement “almost” imperceptible. And is a merit of his work.
His past as an animator provided him with tools to project images from the birth of everything he communicates. For example, in the stills when something is happening in a body: a blink can be made with three frames. The essential is to work properly the rhythm of the sequence, as Patricio mentions “the focus of animation is no only in the eyes, is also the small finger and if it moved like this or that”.
Therefore, that bet to the singularity of detail, that at the same time notices and exhibits the immediate context allows for a better comprehension of his films. It promoting access to a wider audience, and not specialist, transversely bringing close his art and dance films to a bigger audience.
What good news for Chilean and Latin American dance, because our interviewee has international projection.
Written by Carolina Jiménez Tiempos de Danza Nº19 Mayo 2019