Title: If The Dancer Dances
Rating: Not Rated
Director: Maia Wechsler
Starring: Davalois Fearon, Gino Grenek, Meg Harper
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins
What Is It: Stephen Petronio, one of today’s leading dance-makers, is determined to help his dancers breathe new life into “RainForest,” an iconic 1968 work by choreographer Merce Cunningham. With help from three members of the former Cunningham company, Petronio’s dancers strive to restage this work, revealing what it takes to keep a dance — and a legacy — alive.
What We Think: Enlightening and truly captivating. This is a documentary which not only provides a different perspective on choreographing a dance but also teaches how to preserve history in a completely new light. Instead of teaching about a choreographer’s memorable pieces through history books and word of mouth, we are given a perfectly acceptable alternative to keeping history alive. We are shown a choreographer’s piece being passed down to another generation of very skilled and talented individuals but with the exception of allowing more diversity and freedom of expression. This film is a perfect example as to how artwork can evolve and transform in multiple ways. Allow the movement to communicate and translate the same message but through different lines and emotion. Thankfully, the production value was just as good as the message driving this wonderful film. The choreography was excellent, the sound was done well as was the lighting. One of the best parts was getting the opportunity to see and hear the challenges one can face when learning in the entertainment world. To see these dancers struggle, be vulnerable and admit their insecurities was both inspiring and encouraging to many who may lack confidence in themselves and their work. These dancers are only further proof that no matter how successful you become or how talented you are, everyone is facing the same fears, insecurities, and inner demons.
Our Grade: A, The film gives a very refreshing take on preserving history and showing how artwork transcends yet stays the same over time. Through this documentary, we get a sense of how the mind, body, spirit of the dance work together to tell a story and evoke emotion through movement and energy.