Universal, beautiful, quiet, ordinary, communal, stripped down, inviting, multiplying, different, close, meditative, soothing, focused, mesmerising, connecting, loving, tender, caring, fragile, here and now, deep. This is a movie-song for the world, a movie-pause from the world or a movie-stroll in the world. Navigation... It is a sublime poetry of the movement, of the landscape shots and the soundscape. It is an artwork that holds the viewer’s attention and the presence from the first to the last second of its happening, and days and nights after its ending. This performance makes you shed a tear and may even make you cry, depriving you from the ability to rationally explain why and for what reason. This is a refined artwork which deals with a surgical precision with the deepest layers of humanness, with the source, and the core point at which we are all one and every place on the planet has the potential to become our home. Navigation. The screendance movie ever so smoothly widens the inner space of the viewers by allowing them to hear and see the invisible that is always here, interwoven in their bodies, and interwoven in the ground they step on. Navigation is a gift for the senses; it is created to correspond to every person from every corner of the world. It is a microcosm and humane look towards our future.

In Navigation the mind, the body and the surrounding world are one. Skin to skin, body to body, sight after sight, sound after sound merge and create rhythm that at times leads the dancers-singers to a bold move ahead or stops them and holds them in a state of stillness. At times, it sets them off into a beautiful communication with each other, at times, it motivates them to run away from each other. 

Where are they going?

From whom do they run away?

Who are they talking to?

What language do they speak?

Is it a prayer that we hear?

Is it a ritual that we see?

– Shot from Navigation, directed by Marlene Millar, choreography Sandy Silva

These are the questions that gallop in our head during the first minutes of the film, but then they quickly disappear, leaving us alone and leading us to what is essential. No one looks like a dancer and the film itself isn’t like the ones we are used to watching on the big screen. The elegant bodies are not there, there are no perfect figures. We see a diversity of ages, forms of human bodies, races and genders. There are no complex choreographic structures, only plain and simple repetitive movements. We don’t see memorable costumes or lavish set design; actually, there is no scenography. There are only people dressed with ordinary clothes, some with small backpacks, others wearing hats and or raincoats. There are no specific video effects, nor bold visual scenes, only a few shots with a drone. The big blue and the endless green are absent, there are only black and white waves and the black and white cracked earth. There is no complex plot line or narrative, no documentary story; only moving bodies, a choir and nature are present. We hear no sound effects or beautiful music. The bodies themselves produce a sound-language which we may not perceive but surely understand. And maybe at the end of the film there is a song which immediately takes us back to a sweet childhood memory, as if our mothers sang this song to us every night as a lullaby. Where does Navigation lead us in all its frugality and the removal of color pallets, the range of sounds, the arsenal of technological tools, and the choreography skill set… Thanks to the renouncement of unnecessary chatter both at the level of in the concept of the artwork, as well as in the realisation of the production, the screendance artwork reaches a purity of speech, an aesthetic elevation and an unprecedented message. The absent, and that which remains unnamed, allows for inner concentration in the viewer and provides an accurate compass to read the artwork. 

– Shot from Navigation, directed by Marlene Millar, choreography Sandy Silva

What is a home?

Where is home?

With whom am I sharing the journey?

What is a community in unity?

What is to be in a state of togetherness?

These deeper questions emerge somewhere around the middle of the film, looking for a path to reach the viewers, their worldview and existential horizons. We can feel the anxious movements of the bodies and detect a form of fear, the need for a shore, a shelter, but none of these disturbing signs and negative feelings overcomes us. They touch us but don’t possess us; we feel empathy, but we don’t sink into the darkness; every gesture of the bodies, every zoom in and zoom out, excites us but we don’t drown and submerge in our own emotions. Precisely this strong point of Navigation – to keep us alert – is one of its great achievements and places the screendance artwork next to the big works of art that manage to lead the viewer with care and attention from the personal and emotional level of perception to a higher level of objective observation and shared experience. Navigation brings the viewer high up to the place where one can see, hear and think universally, and the tool that executes this magical action of leading, crossing and ascending, is in most part the rhythm, the unceasing melody, the sonic choreography in the movie. The music is the opposite of everything terrifying; it is the guarantee to remain calm, the music inspires confidence and tunes the layers. 

– Shot from Navigation, directed by Marlene Millar, choreography Sandy Silva

The other element in this screendance movie with a special place, different from that which usually is captured by the camera, is the nature. It is not only a beautiful background for the unfolding performance. It is not presented as greater or more powerful than humans, it doesn’t hide a promise for salvation and doesn’t open up a bright horizon for the future. It is not the mother-healer nor a suffering or helpless figure. Navigation creates a distinct, and a somehow upside-down feeling for interaction between human beings and nature. The dancers-singers don’t dance with nature, don’t perform a ritual for nature but rather merge with it and act like one organism, like one entity. No one is placed in the centre of the circle, everybody is a part of a common system. There’s no sense of dominance, of supremacy, of power or fight. The nature in the movie acquires a new role, it is given a flesh. In this artwork, nature is an integral element of the human body – completes its movements in the circles-earthly cracks, finishes its cry in the crashing waves, paints its footsteps on the cobblestone paths, and holds still when the body stops moving. 

Due to this other code of presenting the link nature-human, time in Navigation also flows in a mythical way. Past-present-future are not linear anymore:

Who I am today

I am because of those before

And will be in those after me.

I myself am a vessel

It is left for me to navigate the space between now and then. 


The article is translated by Miryana Mezeklieva.

Svetlozara Hristova is a culturologist, art manager, artistic collaborator, author of articles in the field of contemporary dance and theatre, co-organizer of the Moving Body Festival and RADAR Festival Beyond Music, curator of the platform Book Journey.

Miryana Mezeklieva graduated in Cultural Studies at Sofia University Kliment Ohridski. From 2008 until today she has been working as a translator of feature films and series for dubbing mainly for the channels of Nova Broadcasting Group.

This material was created within the project Translation on Air – a section dedicated to dance for the screen or screendance. Every month we invite the professional and amateur audiences, tempted by this intriguing symbiosis between cinema and dance, to join our readings, conversations and discussions with active practitioners and choreographers in this field from the country and abroad.

The project “Translation on air” is implemented with the financial support of the National Fund “Culture” under the program “Audiences” 2020 and the program “One-year grant” 2021.

Videography and references:

Short film Navigation

Documentary movie for the creation of Navigation

Interview with the dancer and singer Dominic Desrochers 

Interview of David Hinton with Marlene Millar  

Interview of Pádraig Ó Tuama with Marlene Millar

Sound card № 3

Lanson, Javier Goma, “Philosophy of the world”, translated by Teodora Cankova, Critique and Humanism, Sofia, 2021