Never Standing Still
Dance of any kind can be so serious, perhaps especially classical ballet. Ballet is so specific, so exacting, so incredibly precise. The line of the leg, the arch of the foot, the number of turns, the height of elevation—its devotion to transcending a mere commoner’s issues of gravity and bones is meant to inspire awe, and it does. And take my word for it, it is incredibly demanding for the dancer. You move through pain and seemingly impossible shapes because you are in love with the way it makes you feel. And in your best moments, that feeling can be as exhilarating as flying. Then suddenly you land and realize you are fallible. Alas, once again a mere gravity bound human with miles to go before you get your wings.
Enter Hong Kong Ballet. For its 40th anniversary, it staged a wondrous piece of filmmaking that is as tongue in cheek as it gets while not lacking a whit in precision, or bravado. In fact, it is a veritable feast of exactitude in the areas of color, costumes, architecture, locations, and of course dance. Ballerinas with bright yellow tights dance in multi-colored basketball courts, or in duets with blue suited men wearing yellow shirts and sneakers who break into incredibly lyrical locking when they are not channeling Bruce Lee. Little old ladies with multi-colored wigs grin from ear to ear and mock swim while standing in life preservers, ballerinas “vogue,” and a Chinese dragon makes an appearance. There’s even sound effects over the perfectly selected score—a tricked up version of Ravel’s “Bolero.”
Never Standing Still is clearly a beautifully orchestrated team effort. All shot in what looks like Miami, fantastically directed by Dean Alexander, with wonderful cinematography by Andrew Strobridge, and perfect choreography by Artistic Director Septime Webre assisted by Luis R. Torres. And the dancers at least look like they’re having a great time. It’s like a delectable sweet treat you can’t believe you have the good fortune to eat.
Rather than spoil the surprise I’ll say no more except… watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.