As you can probably tell from previous posts, I’m a pretty steady movie-goer. Whether it be obscure, ridiculous, or indulgent… I see what I want to see. Sometimes disappointing and other times eye-opening, movies really help me get outside of myself when I’m too entrenched in my own circumstance.
This past weekend, I ventured to see the Oscar-winning Iranian film, A Separation.
In this fairly accurate (as far as I know) depiction of contemporary life in Iran, we’re presented with a conflict that illustrates their cultural norms in a subtle yet pervasive fashion. There is no clear villain or hero in this tale; every character is under specific and difficult strains – emotional, physical, religious and more.
A Separation is a universal and honest portrait of humanity. It was no tearjerker. There was no action or violence. It didn’t shatter my world into pieces. But it will be one of those films that I just can’t forget.
Over the last few decades, many forms of art have had to re-invent themselves in order to keep up with the surge of media technology in the digital age. However, performance art – particularly dance – seems to be somewhat left behind. Inherently bound by its physical immediacy and humanness, it didn’t seem like dance could move beyond Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Best Dance Crew. Don’t get me wrong; these shows are integral to building new generations of audiences for dance and I’m as equally addicted to them as I am sliced bread. But much like a painting, how can a facsimile compare to witnessing the real thing? Dance performances (good ones, anyways) are usually attended by those who are wealthy or those who specifically seek to have dance in their lives.
Enter in film; super brilliant democratization tool or the worst way to breed culture-seeking laziness? Depends on what lens you’re looking through and what dance form you’re looking at.
Last summer the Royal Ballet of London debuted a classical dance performance in a massive arena with large scale screens for the nosebleed seats. With an audience of over 10,000 people, their aim was to shatter the image that ballet is an elitist art form. One could argue that this method was a cheapening (literally) of the experience. Others could say it made ballet sexy and exciting, enticing a whole new audience regardless of age, race, or background.
Enter in 3D;
Pina is a feature-length dance film in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the work of the great German choreographer (Pina), who died in the summer of 2009. Its trailer boasts the dramatic combination of theatre, drama and life coming straight at ya from the screen.
At the heart of the matter, any person will only seek out what speaks to them. So it probably is better that the dance world cast the biggest net possible to catch some devotees. If a 3D movie and huge arena are not it, then there will always be small stages, where you can still smell the sweat.