Down Time Jaz

A film about a functional family.

A delightful and infectious animated dance film, Down Time Jaz is a ferris wheel ride through family life from the point of view of the second child who must save the rest of her family from itself.

Down Time Jaz is a fantastical portrait of a family of dancers, trapped inside their image of themselves as living out a public performance.  They are watched anxiously through their windows until a new child arrives to break their ‘routine’.  She sees them as “a family of genies suffocating in a bottle”, and decides to “unstop the cord and let the air in and the dance out”.  This frees them to flights of kinetic fantasy and adventure, but ultimately it all becomes too much.  Her new task is then to find “a home, where, at the end of the day, we can all sleep happily” – thus liberating the dancers from their need to always be on display and allowing them to relax into the loving interaction of family life.

“Down Time Jaz is a physical-digital dance which uses real bodies and digital media to choreograph the impossible.  This digitally generated liberation is led by a dancer, who, like digital technology itself, is in her infancy.  Down Time Jaz may look like a whimsical fantasy animation, a bouquet of sweet things and adventures, but scratch the surface and it is also a highly political film about reclaiming ‘family’ as a subject from the far right.

This physical family doesn’t fit Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s or U.S. President George W. Bush’s model for family values, instead it is a creative, challenging, exuberant experience of the roller coaster ride of relationships.

“For me personally, it’s a fantasy of being a perfect person in a world that has room for someone to be both a mother and an artist but not have a vacuum cleaner or a marginalized practice.  Making Down Time Jaz was about finding a way to bring creativity involved in having children into play with the creativity of making a short film.  In it I tried to draw on the fantasies each member of the family has about themselves, and the underlying truths behind these fantasies, to weave together a dance of the family dynamic.  It’s a cross media work in the sense of involving three creative endeavours: dance, film and family.”

Karen Pearlman

The Physical TV Company makes stories told by the body.  Its charter, to make Dance and Physical Theatre for the Screen, makes it Australia’s only purpose built company working in this area, and has lead it to develop and articulate special techniques and processes for creating a fully integrated blend of the crafts of cinema and of dance.  This latest work, with its focus on dance and digital effects, offers viewers the chance to consider the impact of new technology on both forms, and a range of new possibilities for dance on the screen.

Down Time Jaz is the third in the popular Physical Family series by Karen Pearlman and Richard James Allen, which includes What To Name Your Baby and Sam in a Pram.

Selected Screenings, Broadcasts and Awards:

Down Time Jaz has screened:

  • 2004 Cinedans Festival in Amsterdam, Holland.
  • 2003 Dance Briefs at Omeo Studio, Sydney, Australia.
  • 2004 Dance for the Camera Festival at the University of Utah, USA.
  • 2004 Dance on Screen Film Festival, London, UK.
  • 2003 Fano International Film Festival, Italy.
  • 2002 Monaco Dance Forum, Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • 2003 Mostra de Video Dansa (Canal Dansa) in Barcelona, Spain.
  • 2003 Napolidanza, Festival di Videodanza/Il Coreografo Elettronico, in Naples, Italy.
  • 2003 Video Dance Festival in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • 2004 The School of Theatre, Film and Dance, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
  • 2004 Woods Hole Film Festival, Massachusetts, USA.
  • 2005 Art on the Rocks Film Festival, Sydney, Australia
  • 2005 Best of CineMoves tour to AntiStatic Screen Dance, Adelaide
  • 2005 Best of CineMoves tour to Strut Dance Inc, Perth
  • 2005 Performing Arts in the Screen Exhibition, Arts Wonderland – Festival in the Square, Taipei Arts International Association (as part of a two day retrospective)
  • 2005 Dance on Camera Festival, New York City
  • 2006 DFA’s Dance on Camera Festival touring program and the 3rd Annual Modern Dance Festival at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
  • 2007 Dance Camera Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey, as part of a retrospective screening

of ten works entitled A Dance Television: Physical TV

  • 2007 Higher Ground as part of International Dance Day, Northern New South Wales
  • 2007 Best of CineMoves tour organised by Ausdance Queensland to Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • 2007 Silver Lake Film Festival, California
  • 2007 London International Dancefilm Festival
  • 2010 Singapore Arts Festival


  • Down Time Jaz was broadcast on KMTV in 2003 to over 2 million people in China.
  • Down Time Jaz was a preselection finalist for an 2003 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Award in the Best General Experimental Category.

Renee Wadleigh, professor at Champaign Urbana:

Animated portion is well done. Child narration is delightful, visually, very strong.  Has clear focus, and is satisfying to watch.  Wonderful film. Charming technically well built piece. 

Martha Curtis, chair of the dance program at Virginia Commonwealth University:

Delightful whimsical story.  Surreal cutout section is magical and home section is convincing – child performers wonderful and used very well.

Bob Lockyer, former producer of dance for the Camera programming at the BBC:       

Nice animation.