Remember those Maya Deren shorts about dance choreographies? Where bodies surged and ebbed with animal energy and the camera danced along. We have something like this here, except on multiple planes. We have the camera dancing with Jean-Claude Gallotta's dance troupe, we have the dancers dance together, and we have the shadows they cast on the walls dancing between them.
The choreography is Gallota's and it's rather wonderful, some kind of modern dance where the anticipated melodious routine is suddenly jerked about by syncopated movements and unintelligible bellows. Weird things happen among the flow of dance that you wouldn't expect from it; they whisper and mumble words, they crane their necks birdlike. I expect the folks who know more about dance will be able to properly situate it as to what it is, and how it innovates its form. But the camera is uniquely Ruiz's; but where usually the forms in his films are imposing and the movements fluid, here the forms (the actual dancers) are both imposing and fluid. Now they tower above us like pillars; then they surge past.
We're placed in this in ways that an audience watching a stage production wouldn't be able to. Sometimes dutifully observing, sometimes dynamically mingling with the swirl. Now and then we are framed behind objects, a telephone, a bicycle, which only reinforce the artifice of the blank walls.
But there's more to this than fancier notions of talking about blocking and camera. Dance after all is pantomime of emotion, an actual embodiment of inner joys or sorrows (which in itself generates) its own camp appreciation for some people).
Here lies the actual magic of the film. Although intoxicating enough as spectacle, there is sense behind it. Over the course of the various vignettes between dancers, a pattern emerges; a series of encounters about touch and connection, about the one struggling to become whole by the other, melancholy in trying to figure out the various ways, in the end quietly affecting when it succeeds.
It ends with seagulls in a windswept beach and marvellous music, as usual in the films of Ruiz. It's a rare thing to track down, yet one to be cherished by those who do.
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