I wrote a review for The Film House on The Standard: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/08/21/film-house-contemporary-color-and-the-merging-of-arts
The film starts off with a vague idea of what is about to be revealed to us. However, once you’re there you find yourself learning about something you should’ve known about a long time ago, which is colour guard and David Byrne’s Contemporary Color.
Contemporary Color is a performance event conceived by Byrne, of the new wave band Talking Heads, and co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival.
Byrne had realized that colour guard, an under-appreciated “sport of the arts” that is usually performed during half-time shows at football games, could be transformed into an event specifically showcasing their talents. These high school and college level “dance” groups are used to being secondary entertainment or competing against each other.
In an event like Contemporary Color, 10 lucky 20- to 40-persons teams are chosen to perform in a celebration of what they do. With artists such as Lucius, Nico Muhly and Ira Glass, Nelly Furtado, St. Vincent, Devonté Hynes, How To Dress Well, Zola Jesus, Ad-Rock and Money Mark, Byrne and Tune-Yards pairing up with the teams to create original pieces for them to perform to, it is truly an event like none other. A lover of any of these artists would appreciate these interpretations and, additionally, be introduced to other musicians accompanied by these remarkable visuals.
Directed by Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV, the film shows us what happens when two arts merge together and interpret each other.
What better place to screen Contemporary Color than at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, a place that celebrates variety and diversity.
It would be too simple and too narrow a description to call Contemporary Colorjust a documentary. It does more than that. It introduces us to the world of interpretive art. The musicians, the dancers and the filmmakers are all given that challenge to understand each other art. What is difficult here is the openness and the receptivity that is required to do well in communication such as this.
As the audience, we can only appreciate this type of silent art with what the Ross brothers choose to translate to us. There are no flashbacks and no over-used backstories. There is only the respect that they all have for each other, knowing the time and effort it has taken to get to where they were. By the end of it, we are able to see all the many different elements that had to come together to produce something so transcendental.
With such silent non-explanations for the determination it takes for them to do what they are doing, the film resembles the films shown at the time of Expo 67. Hearing the voice-overs, seeing them perform at their neighbourhoods, the superimpositions, the slow zooms and even the music itself all give the film a dream-like and almost hallucinatory energy. As a result we are given these peculiar visuals of the merging of the arts.
Contemporary Color is an educational, entertaining and unique experience. It is so captivating that you leave unsure of whether you want more films like this or if you want to go see Contemporary Color live.