The viewer’s eye travels along the lines and traverses the objects. Their outer walls. The huge hollow mass. Looking for an entrance through the cracks. Exploring the human body. The muscles and the tendons. The bones, the ribs, and the wrists. The eyes and the hair. The human bodies move architectural objects. The architectural objects-backpacks affect the movement of the bodies. The choreography works with this effect.

What is this? What are these? Who carries them? What are they? Are they alive? Are they moving or is my mind playing tricks on me? Are they static? What are they?

Backpacks, sculptures, architectural objects, and structures. 

Burden Halved, director and choreographer Kitty McNamee, creative director and sculptor Lara Schnitger

The Imagination, just like the human eye, seeks inner gaps.

What is a burden? What is my own burden? Do I share it, or is it just mine? Am I carrying someone else’s weight? How long has it been weighing on me? Am I tired? Does it ever get lighter or is it always there? Is my burden beautiful? Can it be beautiful? Does it have a shape? Is it ugly? Does my baggage change me? Does it change the material me, the physical me, my body in the material, physical, bodily world? 

Loads, burdens, weights, baggage.

The soul, like the eye and the imagination, seeks cracks. Windows inside. Open and closed, some broken. The places where the borders between light and darkness blur. Doorway for deep layers under the fabrics. Beyond textures and colours.

What’s there? Who’s there? Why is it there? Why is it (not) always there? Is it part of me?

Fear. Mania. Vanity. Desire. Longing. Faith.


Burden Halved is a screendance project – a dance film born from the partnership of Kitty McNamee – director and choreographer – and Lara Schnitger – artistic director and author of the sculptures. The movie fits the term ‘screendance’ perfectly, because the bodies move with an intention, prompted by the processes and ideas into which the four dancers, together with Kitty and Lara, delve. The camera is also an important participant. It always floats toward its characters and follows their footsteps, pirouettes, jumps, oscillations, and waves. The editing is in precise symbiotic time with the bass, sometimes gentle, at times coarse, and carefully intertwined in the choreography of bodies, objects and light.

The choice of a short format is a bonus for viewing the movie as screendance practice, because when the film is available online (within digital sections/rubrics, festivals, and more), it is possible for us as viewers to identify and analyze the individual components of the dance film and how they work synergistically. A good example in Burden Halved are several meaningful opposition pairs, revived through the language of screendance. One of them is dance and stillness – the rhythm of the bodies charges and drives the frozen sculptures and the lens has the ability to zoom in as close as possible to feel their corporeality and to zoom out to realize their integrity and the scope of that human being – a man with a wonder perched on his shoulders. Another contrast is weight and lightness – the camera and the montage, capturing the dancers and the objects on their backs, can create illusions of weight due to the scale of the structures. And they are actually quite light. We know this fact, because we had the pleasure of sharing thoughts and opinions with the creators of the artwork in an online conversation, part of the screendance rubric Translation on Air.

This inspiring discussion confirmed our conviction that the field of interpretation of the film is wide and its boundaries are not visible. According to Kitty, one prism of interpreting the artwork is the concept of fear as a universal human burden. Something we all carry, always, albeit in various forms, manifestations, and metamorphoses. Fear of the familiar and fear of the foreign. Fear of being too close or too far away. Fear of the past and the future. Fear of impending incapacity. Fear of one’s own stories, which today would prevent a person from loving, being kind, warm, and generous. Fear that the fear will not be shared, but it could be. Fear is the most human burden that we should all understand intuitively and empathetically. At the same time, Lara offered another look – the burden as addressed, transformed, decontextualized, dignified past – now lighter, accepting (or even creating) a new ethereal form. Always still there. A memory of hardship, but in its own majestic guise. 


Burden Halved can also be seen as an artwork that belongs to the long tradition of another art field – experimental cinema. While subject to many definitions, this field is always characterized by experimentation, theorizations about it, critical accumulations, analytical delusions, academic discussions, debates, concepts, and almost obligatory comparisons and contrasts with something else – mainstream cinema, Hollywood cinema, narrative films, genre films, and more. It is interesting which features Burden Halved, as a short film and perhaps a moving work, shares with some of the experimental cinema characteristics. And more precisely, what are the ways in which the action is formed and moves, flows, is described and/or told to the viewer and listener? What are the methods through which plots, events, moods, and ideas are developed?

There is no clear plot in Burden Halved. There may be a beginning, a culmination, a denouement, but their outlines are abstract. Time flows linearly, but it is indefinite, uncertain, and vague. It could be always and anytime. There is no exposition, no explanation of the rules by which the film’s world works. It has its own logic, which is in fact flexible and often directly dependent on individual perception. The basis of what is happening on the screen is not strings of causes and effects. In the case of Burden Halved we get to know the characters through the non-verbal – through movement, gesture, gaze, and interaction with light and structures. These are protagonists with great stories. Naked, in their own way, unfree and free. They offer their own narratives and burden for open reading – light or heavy. They give us what experimental cinema puts on a high pedestal – endless ambiguous questions, indefinite complexities, doubts, strangeness, mysteries, shortcomings, impossibilities, and inevitabilities. What are these objects made of, are they alive, are they human fears or desires, are they daydreams, anxieties, dreams, or hopes? Are they really always there? How fragile are they? Can they be stripped? Abandoned? Broken? Can they be carried by two or three? Do they weigh, do they have doorways, can they be embraced with several arms?


In addition to provoking the eye, the ear, the mind, and the imagination, Burden Halved is an experience of our inner universes. Intimate and exciting. Important for what it brings, the ways it changes, and the traces it leaves behind. It does not need to be placed in just one genre box. It is a screendance project and a creative experiment, but it is also something beyond that. It has an unforgettable imprint on the viewer. It is the lasting dwelling of deep questions about oneself and one’s own burden, determining one’s movements in one’s personal existential choreography. The spectator who touches the thin sticks of wood and soft cloth of suitcases, reaches for the air pockets of the backpack and searches and asks what this one is full of, perched on his own back.

Translated by Miryana Mezeklieva

Ana-Maria Sotirova has a degree in Film from the University of Reading and a Master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Amsterdam. She is a collaborator at the Moving Body Festival in Varna with main organizers Svetlozara Hristova and Iskra Ivanova.

Miryana Mezeklieva (1987) graduated in Cultural Studies at Sofia University Kliment Ohridski. Since 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 rubric dedicated to dance for screen or screendance. Every month we invite the professional and amateur audience, tempted by this intriguing symbiosis between cinema and dance, to join our readings, conversations and discussions with active practitioners in this field choreographers 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 bibliography:

Short film Burden Halved 

Online conversation with Kitty McNamee and Lara Schnitger

Bordwell, David. 2013. Narration in the Fiction Film. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis