SHORT FILM REVIEW: Atmosphere Suite – YouTube

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Creator: Chrissy Cochrane

Choreographer: Laura Quiles

Breaking down barriers has become a bit of a 2020 mission for artists and creatives determined to change the way we see ourselves. Chrissy Cochrane, a blind and transgendered artist originally from New Zealand who has lived in the UK for 60 years, hoped to showcase her latest work and its accompanying short film at a small event in early October before Covid-restrictions forced a rethink. Now Atmosphere Suite, bringing together a cross-European team has instead been given its YouTube premiere on Cochrane’s own channel.

Focusing on gender, age and disability barriers, the six-minute Atmosphere Suite includes choreography from Laura Quiles, audio-visual honing from Fer Ribes and music created by Cochrane herself, while Pascal Chahin helped to develop the still imagery. Its purpose, Cochrane explains is to inspire the viewer and “no matter what barriers they have in their way, they’re able to achieve their goals.”

The film has several thematically distinct sections each with its own dance and design aesthetic; lasting only a few seconds, the first is a starry night sky against which a nude dancer is silhouetted while flecks of what look like stardust fall through hands outstretched to the camera for a few seconds. A more earthly piece follows, shaded in reddish brown with a tribal quality as the dancer crouches to create an angular, almost animalistic shape as an evolutionary process begins.

The rest of the video creates tonal shifts that use colour and different costumes to reflect both the music and Quiles’ often seductive choreography as the uncredited dancer stretches and leaps. There are elemental shifts too including a burgundy hued section that reflects the heat of the sun as the performer undulates and bows in worshipful appreciation.

The northern lights inspire a green-themed piece, while one of the best visual segments is a wind-whipped, white-infused dance during which the screen is partially and dramatically occluded. With sections also reflecting cloudy sunsets and lush forests, Atmosphere Suite is certainly inspired by the natural world both on earth and beyond.

Some of Ribes visuals, particularly in close-up, have an overwrought 80s music video feel to them which detracts from Quiles’ more dynamic choreography, but the idea of a single dancer taking on and responding to whatever life throws at her is clear even in this very short, expressive piece.

Without Cochrane’s accompanying art work, it is hard to know how the film would feel in its intended context and the proposed barrier-breaking concept in this YouTube format is clearer within the creative team than in the film itself, but with an international team already assembled and a promising ‘to be continued’ card at the end of the video, it will certainly be interesting to follow the development of Atmosphere Suite.

Available here

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