Spectrum: Exploring Masculinity Through Dance.
Director & Words: Artur Zaremba
SPECTRUM is reinterpretation of the dated archetype of a man, which operates in the mainstream culture. The film challenges heteronormativity in dance and wider society by telling the story of two very different artists brought together by the desire to express their true selves through movement. On a very personal level the film is also an exploration of my own masculinity - a concept that I struggled with for as long as I can remember.
I have vivid memories of being a four-year-old fascinated by my older sister’s Barbie doll and wanting to play dress up but instead being repeatedly given cars and guns to play with. The norms currently functioning in our society seriously limit our potential to explore and discover our true selves. The expectations of always being strong, successful and reserved can cause unrepairable damage to self-concept of young men growing up. I wanted SPECTRUM to be an impulse for us all to challenge this dated stereotype and openly share our own experiences. That’s the only way we can collectively grow and make this place less shit for those who come after us.
It’s fair to say I felt quite cautious and hesitant when the idea first came to me. Prior to SPECTRUM I had never made a documentary before and frankly wasn’t sure if my own experiences were something relatable enough. But getting to know Jontae and Stefanos (the wonderful dancers featured in SPECTRUM) made me realise that their stories are the experiences of many. Dance is such a wonderful, underappreciated storytelling medium. The choreography they created for the purpose of our collaboration is, in my opinion, mesmerising and thought-provoking.
Experimenting with the genre and mixing various formats to tell the story was extremely liberating. Repurposing archive footage helped in emphasising how dated the archetype of masculinity we still adhere to is. Split screens and framing images in various devices draws a parallel to how easily society puts us in one-size-fits-all boxes. The contrast of the sublime, glossy slow-motion footage with dynamic and aggressive low-quality VHS shots hopefully works as an analogy to the vast range of shades in between of what it means to be a man.
Filmmaking for me has always been a way to connect to others – it enables us to understand unfamiliar perspectives and to make sense of the world around us. I’m an anxious introvert but being on set with other passionate creatives is when I’m happiest and feel most connected. Telling stories on screen gives me a sense of belonging and purpose. I would still make films if the only person watching them was my mum! The current social backdrop and the complex political climate really require all of us to step up and break the mould in whatever we do. I wanted to make a film that will help young people to be comfortable in their own skin, regardless of how masculine or feminine they are. If at least one person feels better about themselves after watching SPECTRUM, then that is all that matters to me.