Mill/Lady was, for me, a back door into Brittany Bailey’s work. I first watched Light Dance with Girl a few months ago and wasn’t sure what to make of it. She’s a super articulate mover, and I’d guess her work searches for the places where an intense devotion to clarity (rather than, say, perfectly-timed execution) pulls a performer away from the task of rote recitation and toward an experience of movement ‘in its own right.’ I couldn’t have told you any of that, though, before watching Charlie Birns’ Mill/Lady (in which Brittany Bailey figures as the choreographer and the lead actor).
Dance for camera, in my opinion, tends to do a bad job of handling dance’s strangeness; it may overtake familiar sites and feature recognizable figures, but it almost never acknowledges the fact that people don’t tend to move like dancers when they’re not in a studio or on a dance floor or on a stage. And here, that conflict is both what defines the Lady as a character and outlines her relationship with the strange Man who shows up late in the film. The whole thing presents the relationship between ‘natural’ and ‘choreographed’ movement in a way that sounds clearly and richly both through the characters in the film and to dance film as a form. It’s definitely one of my favorite dance films at this point. (If you could call it that, which you needn’t.)
Also check out Charlie Birns’ WEASEL, another movement-heavy collab with Bailey.