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Daniel Belton (Choreographer/Film Maker)

Daniel is an accomplished multi-media arts practitioner with 30 years experience working in and researching film, cinematography, digital post production techniques, projection mapping, motion capture, fine art, sound, and design. He was the recipient of Creative New Zealand's Choreographic Research Residency at Otago University 2004, visiting Media Artist in Residence at Massey University 2008, and Arts Council of New Zealand's Choreographic Fellow for 2010. In 2015 he was made an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Arts Laureate. In 2019 Daniel and Good Company Arts were awarded first place in the prestigious Sino x Niio Illumination Art Prize, Hong Kong.

Co-founder and Artistic Director of Good Company Arts, Daniel was born in the Horowhenua region of New Zealand. He was a principal dancer with renowned Danish choreographer, Kim Brandstrup's Arc Dance Company working from London during the 1990's. During his freelance performance career he collaborated with theatre luminaries including Douglas Wright, Lindsay Kemp Company, and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

From Aotearoa New Zealand, Daniel established Good Company Arts with artist-producer Donnine Harrison to create live events and installations through the fusion of multiple art forms. The company are internationally acknowledged as innovators, creating multi-media arts experiences for theatres, galleries, museums, media and architectural facades, cinemas, planetariums, web and VR. Highlights include the Prague Quadrennial, World Stage Design Festival, Cinedans, Festival Internacional de la Imagen and ISEA, Dance on Camera New York, Genius Loci Weimar International Video Mapping Festival, Romaeuropa Festival, Zentrum Paul Klee, N.O.W DanceSaar Internationales Tanzfestival, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Attakkalari India Biennial, Oceanic Performance Biennial Rarotonga, Arts House Singapore, Aarhus Festival Denmark, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Xintiandi Festival Shanghai, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Auckland Art Gallery, Tempo Festival Auckland, Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand and the National Museum of Singapore. 

Music video TIGER (Silver Lotus)

Your project has entered our festival. What is your project about?

TIGER (Silver Lotus) brings a focus through dance and music to the ancient Oriental philosophy, Yin and Yang. This concept describes how contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world - how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another, cultivating diversity. The TIGER (Silver Lotus) film is a high energy dance opus to celebrate the great cat in the meadow of our consciousness. It was created for the Year of the Tiger (2022).

What are your ambitions with your project?

We hope that people around the world will continue to enjoy the film. I would love to create a 360 dome version and to have the amazing music composer (Mark de Clive-Lowe) play live with the film one day.

Tell us something about your shooting. What pleasantly surprised you?

With Good Company Arts we use Sony 4K camera's (3) in the studio. This work was brilliant over 2 days with dance artist Airu Matsuda performing to camera through a series of structured improvs that combined Contemporary Dance styles with Hip Hop. I was surprised by the luminosity of the orange kimono costume in the film space, once lighting was set.

What locations did you choose for your project? And why?

We shot in an infinity film studio space (white) to enable the spatial layering that I create in post with motion graphics and other elements. This also involves a team.

How would you characterize your work?

Dance-art film, digital dance cinema.

At what festivals have you had success? 

Honorable Mention Tokyo Film Awards* Honorable Mention GLIFF Lisbon* Honorable Mention International Sound Music Video Awards Prague* Honorable Mention LNDN Music Video Awards* Best Dance Music Video International Sound Future Awards New York* Best Music Video/Best VFX/Best Director at Masters of Cinema Rome* Best Dance Music Video Rome Music Video Awards* Best Experimental Short at the Istanbul Film Awards* Best Dance Short at Atlanta Movie Awards* Best Jazz Song Euro Video Song Awards* Best Dance Music Video Euro Video Song Awards* Best Asia Pacific Music Video Rome Music Video Awards*

What motivated you to become a filmmaker?

Early silent cinema of Keaton, and then Fellini, Fritz Lang, and more recently the dance film works of Pina Bausch and Co. There are many other influences and current ones, but the starting point of my curiosity and passion for film is silent cinema - the expressive potency of human gesture and dance captured on film offers a kind of kinetic map of the spirit in action. 

What topics do you like to explore in your work?

We can be and are important influencers on the world stage with our creations. Uplifting and inspirational stories in dance, and in the art-film genre, open peoples minds and hearts to tolerance, to celebrating the diversity and beauty of all cultures, all peoples.

What genre do you like to shoot and why?

Art-film, choreography and dance. This is my heritage and where I come from - the performing arts, dance and the visual arts. I bring 30+ years international experience to the field.

What project would you like to shoot one day, and what would it be about?

Documentaries about Taonga Pūoro artists (traditional Maori music instruments and practitioners).

How has COVID affected your film life?

We are seeing a greater embrace of technologies in moving image, which includes 360 and other formats. Indie film making carries more of a voice than ever before on the world stage, especially where the younger generation artists are stepping forward to highlight awareness around issues that affect us all -climate change, renewable energy, race equality, etc.

What do you do if you're not thinking about a movie, work, shooting? 

Being in nature, the great outdoors, star gazing, mountain climbing, walking in forests. I also am a keen gardener.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?

With Good Company Arts we are creating a sequel to the TIGER (Silver-Lotus) film. This new work is for Year of the Dragon 2024 and involves artists from New Zealand, Australia and Japan. I am a PhD candidate at Massey University College of Creative Arts. My research is primarily spatial and optical - I am looking at 360 dome and XR environments in relation to performing arts. 

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