New Dance Cinema 2001
Thurs-Sun March 1-4 at the Little Theatre.

Imagine living in the town of Agra and never setting foot in the Taj Mahal. Living in Seattle and failing to catch New Dance Cinema 2001 is almost as bad. Dance cinema--dance conceived and choreographed for the camera rather than the stage--is huge in Europe, emerging in Australia, Canada, and Japan, and little more than a pinprick in the United States. If you want to see this stuff, you can jump on a plane to New York for Dance on Camera or San Francisco for Footage or Utrecht for Springdance or Vienna for IMZ--or you can stroll down to the Little Theatre.

The best description of dance cinema I've come across is "camera as dancer." The idea is so obvious. Dancers move; lightweight cameras move; montage has always given the illusion of movement. Let's get these guys together and put on a show. Herewith some highlights.

Inasmuch As Life Is Borrowed. The Wim Vandekeybus troupe, who danced earlier this season at On the Boards, have made a film with vivid, surreal color and an emotionally accessible theme: Life is movement. I had forgotten that before a baby is born its mother knows it as someone who moves. And at the other end of the life span, for a dancer to treat death as stillness is deeply affecting.

Reines d'un Jour demonstrates the thrilling possibilities of photographing dance in real settings. Even the boldest set designer can't compete with the Alps. Even the most liberal-minded theater is unlikely to accommodate more than a few cows. But real Alpine gravity and real bovine tussles--along with fine, thumping choreography and a mix of professional and nonprofessional dancers--transform an odd Swiss legend that might, inside, have been a little cloying.

Measure is reviewed on the previous page.

Achterland. The great, the ice queen, the one and only Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker choreographs and directs. Before I saw De Keersmaeker's troupe, I never knew dancers could perform indistinguishably identical things at the selfsame moment.

A free discussion on the topic at hand; i.e., isn't Seattle the logical place to spearhead dance cinema in the United States? The answer is yes, but come anyway. Excerpts from Gregg Lachow's Silence! will be shown alongside the aforementioned Measure. Creators of both films will be on hand to talk.

21 ...tudes à Danser. This film is almost laughably hip. It has everything of the moment: dancers with choreographed long hair like simultaneous shampoo ads; slip dresses, slips, tiny shirts, bare feet, and torturous high heels; dancing on piles of furniture; gnomic spoken text in more than one language; frosty precision; rolling on the floor; falling down; industrial settings; and defiant, bracing seriousness. Will it look dated in 15 years? Probably, but so what?

Scrub Solo 1: Sololiness. My sound bite for this one would be "Isadora Duncan [the originator of modern dance] meets Stan Brakhage [the world's most famous experimental filmmaker]"--with Bud Blumenthal as Duncan and Antonin De Bemels as Brakhage. It takes exquisite timing to make experimental film interesting, and these guys have it.

Dom Svobode. Doesn't a dance movie about a project to dance sideways on a vertical stone wall sound contrived and sterile? Then how come this film is so exhilarating, funny, and grand?

Allee der Kosmonauten. If you can bring your kids to only one of these shows, Allee's the one. It's an over-the-top spoof of '70s soap opera--the dishwater video, the awkward, underdressed sets, the low-budget special effects, the emotionally labile yet deadpan characters, the futile interactions with household objects like brooms and ironing boards, the absurd plot twists, the kaleidoscopic combination and recombination of partners. Plus "Three on the Bed and the Little One Said" under a plank. Plus a man playing an accordion while standing on his head. I'm sure any child will agree, this is way better than The Nutcracker.

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