We pattern and are patterned by filmic moves.

Genre itself is a choreography that we re-enact, again and again, across cinematic corpuses and human bodies.

The locked knees of zombies, the calculated gaze of a femme fatale, the contracting abdomens of shot cowboys: these repeating gestures amount to choreographies that enact their genres' meaning, ideologies, and pleasures.

Gesture is the site of genre's instability and a means for its critique. It's where characters take on the moves of another genre, dancing with abandon into hybrid and contaminated forms. It's where generic meanings can be taken up -danced- by bodies for which this choreography was not intended.

Historically, gestures have been studied in illustrated typologies, classified as static poses corresponding to literal meanings. action is an attempt to animate the gesture typology and illuminate the choreographic coding of film genre.

Beyond the reactionary stirrings of flinching and laughing, we move along with movies. We embody and memorize these choreographies, always ready to reenact the generic in our gestures.

Dance along; you already know the moves.

- Sarah Friedland


Friedland, in collaboration with artist Diane Zhou, formulated a new gestural alphabet --which Friedland could mix and match into different choreographic sequences-- drawn from genre films. Click below to see their work.