Animating Dance: Glen Keane's Duet is a True Masterpiece
Believe it or not, I'm not gonna gush about my love of animation dance today (as much as I would love to bombard you with a plethora of Marquese Scott videos). Instead, I want to talk about something equally mind-blowing: animated dance.
Artist and animator Glen Keane worked with Disney for 38 years; he's the mastermind behind beloved characters such as Aladdin, Ariel, the Beast, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Rapunzel. Since leaving Disney in 2012, Keane has been working on a new project: an animated short for Google Advanced Technology and Projects' Spotlight Stories.
Duet, Keane's short and the third story in Google's series, follows the lives of Mia and Tosh, whose paths weave and intertwine as they grow up. The result? A sweet and charming pas de deux of sorts. Much to our delight, Mia becomes a beautiful ballerina at several points throughout the film. But here's the thing: It's entirely composed of graphite drawings—10,555 drawings, or 60 drawings per one second of animation, to be specific. That's a lot of drawings.
Can you imagine breaking up each second of a grand jeté, for example, into 60 frames? How about a pirouette? You've got to have a serious understanding of movement to accomplish that successfully. And Keane does just that.
In a lecture at the California Institute of the Arts last January, Keane explained the extremely involved process of animating dance. His take home message? It's the in-between moments—the moments that take you from standing to grand jeté—that really count. He calls it the "juice" behind the pose. Sound familiar? Perhaps dance and animation aren't all that different, after all. (To watch the full lecture, click here. We highly recommend it!)
And now, without further ado, our feature presentation, Duet:
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer