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X-Ray: The Unknown Quantity Dance Film - Birmingham

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Free Dance Film Will Be Screened Across Birmingham
Dance enthusiasts will be able to watch an innovative new digital dance film and sonic soundscape that commemorates the anniversary of the first medical X-Ray.

X ray the unknown quantity film, Birmingham hippodrome, Birmingham city university , Birmingham children's hospital
A new film celebrating the discovery of X-rays


X-Ray: The Unknown Quantity is a new collaboration between Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham City University and Birmingham Children's Hospital which has been commissioned to coincide with the 120th anniversary of the X-Ray, which was performed by Birmingham radiology pioneer Major John Hall-Edwards.

The free film will be displayed via Birmingham Hippodrome's digital screens located in the theatre's main foyer and at Birmingham City University and Birmingham Children's Hospital throughout November.

Families can also see the short film from their homes as it will be launched via the Birmingham Hippodrome website on November 8 to coincide with World Radiography Day and International Radiology Day, an international day of celebration marking the anniversary of the discovery of x-radiation by German Physicist Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895.

X-Ray: The Unknown Quantity explores the aesthetics, sounds and actions of X-Ray machines as well as different people's experiences of using them. The finished work is formed of three distinct perspectives - the patient's, the operator's and the machine's - and uses dance, sound and 'xograms', images depicting the shadows of objects, to present these different aspects.

Creative work has resulted in a unique meeting of stop animation film, contemporary dance, X-Ray imagery and sonic soundscape collated from 'hidden' body sounds and X-Ray equipment.

The innovative project brings together the creative talents of award-winning contemporary dance artist and choreographer Mickael 'Marso' Riviere, British Institute of Radiology artist in residence Hugh Turvey and Birmingham-based Sound Artist Justin Wiggan.

Pioneer Major Hall-Edwards was a high-profile public figure in the city at the turn of the 20th century and did much to advance scientific understanding of X-Ray imaging as well as the prevention and treatment of cancer. Towards the end of his life, he lost his left arm as a result of radiation exposure and his amputated arm is now preserved in the collection of the University of Birmingham.

X ray the unknown quantity film, Birmingham hippodrome
Creative dance and sound experts have worked on X Ray - the Unknown Quantity


Graham Callister, Director of Creative Programmes at Birmingham Hippodrome said: 'Hippodrome CREATIVE wanted to commission a new artwork that would draw attention to Hall-Edwards' work and Birmingham's role in this important medical breakthrough with worldwide implications. It's also an opportunity to highlight how the city continues to be a world leader in medical imaging today."

Radiography remains one of the most important tools in modern medicine, enabling diagnosis and assessment that without the use of X-rays, imaging and ultrasound would otherwise be impossible. Birmingham Children's Hospital alone performs in excess of 69,631 examinations each year. High-energy radiation also provides life-saving treatment in cancers and tissue disease.

This new commission brings together leading local and national artists to combine hip hop dance, visual, sound and sonic art with film production skills to create an innovative new digital artwork that references the present day medical X-ray experience.

Helen White, Head of Radiography at Birmingham City University, added: "This evocative new dance film and sonic soundscape encapsulates the pioneering nature of Major John Hall-Edwards' work 120 years ago while allowing us as modern radiography professionals to view our discipline through fresh eyes."

X-ray the unknown quantity , Birmingham hippodrome
Birmingham Hippodrome will show the film in its foyer through November


Hugh Turvey trained as a designer but retrained as a photographer under iconic photographer Gered Mankowitz. From 1996 to 1997, he started experimenting with x-ray/shadow photography after being asked to create an alternative 'revealing' image for an album cover. With the encouragement of the Science Photo Library he went on to produce an extensive series of coloured x-rays of everyday objects as well as six ground breaking 'motion x-ray' European TV commercials.

Meanwhile, Mickael Marso Riviere has been based in the UK for over 15 years and has, in that time, established himself as a major force in both the contemporary dance, and b-boy dance worlds. Professionally trained at the Titus and Elena Pomsar Ballet school, Rosella Hightower International Dance Schools, and The Circus Space, he launched his professional dance company, Company Decalage in 2005.

Actively involved in the Hip Hop scene as a Bboy, Mickael founded Birmingham's first street dance agency Bboy's Attic in 2004, which later teamed up with one of the UK's leading Breakin' Crews MDK. Michael is also the TBB UK Chapter president of one of the original Breakin' crews and Hip Hop families entitled The Bronx Boys.

Then there is Justin Wiggan, who works with sound, history and performance to "discover the links between the two roles humans fall into: the internal tourist and the external explorer".
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Why? See free dance film in Birmingham
When: Throughout November
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome foyer
Cost: Free
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