No Dance was originally made on Super 8 in 1982, subtitled "A 25 minutes film not about dancing". In seeking alternative avenues to film theatres, numerous screenings were organized in live venues and clubs in Melbourne and Sydney. The film would be projected onto the gig stage, with the sound from the Super 8 projector fed into the PA system. But after these screenings, the film literally fell to pieces; the remnants were acquired by the National Film & Sound Library in Canberra. A 16mm re-make was produced in 1985, with Rod Bishop producing and Ray Argall shooting (both of who would go to work on Philip Brophy's films Salt Saliva Sperm & Sweat and Body Melt).
The subject of No Dance is the early-80s resurgence of dance in Rock subculture which first arose during the punk explosion. In an overtly stylized 'non-documentary' form, the film looks at the pogo and Punk; the Twist and New Wave; the 'no dance' of New Romanticism; plus club music, electronic drum programming, break-dancing, 'real' Rock'n'Roll, and sexuality in dancing.
the record buyer - Jillian Burt
the listener - Peter Lawrence
the Linn Drum computer - Lino Caputo
the Twist - Merryn Gates
the body dance - Kim Beissel
the modern dance - Julie Purvis
the radio DJ - Bruce Milne
the no dance - Robert Pearce
Script, direction & editing - Philip Brophy
Producer - Rod Bishop
Cinematography - Ray Argall
Technical assistant - Dale Putting
Production management - Maria Kozic
Music & soundtrack mix - Philip Brophy
All keyboards & drum programming - Philip Brophy
Saxes - Ian Cox & Ralph Traviato
Guitar & bass - Robert Goodge
Studio shooting - Latrobe University media studios
Soundtrack mini-LP released on Present Records
Best Australian Short - Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne
DREAMSCAPES - Modern Image Makers, Glasshouse CInema, Melbourne
Best Experimental Film - Australian Film Institute Awards, Sydney
Student Cultural Centre Gallery, Ljubljana
Student Cultural Centre Gallery, Belgrade
Alabama Hall, Munich
No Dance is about the pleasures and puzzles of dancing in relation to rock subculture, concentrating particularly on the six year period from 1977 to 1982. The film mixes codes and conventions from the documentary film, the fictional narrative, and the rock video-clip. Addressing the ever-growing phenomenon of 'cross-over' audiences (in this case, Rock and Film), No Dance attempts to turn to audience cross-over into an audience clash. Just as a 'regular film audience' would probably know very little about rock subculture, so would 'a regular rock audience' probably know very little about radical film practice. No Dance gives a fair dose of accessibility and alienation to everyone.
The best way to describe No Dance is that it is the antithesis of something like Jillian Armstrong's Starstruck. Starstruck is a merger between two commercial industries (Rock and Film), concentrating on an appropriation of subculture blended with 'good 'ol fashioned entertainment'. No Dance is a clash between two critical audiences (Rock and Film), concentrating on a dissection of subculture intercut with 'good 'ol dialectical entertainment'.Film stills - Peter Lawrence; Merryn Gates © 1985
No Dance was shot on 16mm with no sync audio. Each section is filmed as a 'portrait' of the character (the record buyer, the listener, etc.) over which a voice-over narration of that 'character' is placed. These scenes comprise the essay-like patchwork of ideas and commentaries about dance culture as it was being formed in rock channels at the time (prior to the late-80s explosion of club music and the increasing 'take-over' of rock by disco, electro, techno, etc.). In this regard, it extends some of the ideas explored in the → ↑ → project Asphixiation.