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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

330. Dancing Across Borders


    I have always admired men who possess grace, partially because I have none whatsoever.
    Dancing Across Borders reminded me that my lack of rhythm is not new. In fact, it pricked a memory of when Mrs W and I went on a tour of Thailand 22 years ago.
    One night we watched a performance by traditional Thai dancers and they then invited members of the audience on stage. Imagine my shame when the girls were reduced to fits of giggles by me prancing around the stage like a fairy elephant.
    Sokvannara 'Sy' Sar has no such issues. He is one of the most lithe young chaps I've ever seen on the screen.
    He can leap like an Olympic high jumper and has rhythm that a great clumsy oaf like me can only dream about.
    And he is the star of a film which is currently being shown as part of a festival of movies at Picture House cinemas across the country.
    Paul Ridd has organised the festival and kindly sent me a screener of this movie by Anne Bass, the woman who found Sy, dancing in a temple in Cambodia in 2000 and took him to America.
    Bass was capitvated his performance as a young child and sensed a great talent.
    How right she turned out to be. He has now performed all over the United States and further afield.
    With help of home movie footage, Dancing Across Borders tells his story from the boy from the poor family who used to dance for love to the man being coached by the likes of Benjamin Millepied (the choreographer and star of Black Swan).
    There are interviews with his parents, his early teachers in Cambodia and those who took on his training in the United States.
    He had much to overcome when he went there, after all, he didn't understand English or western-style dancing. He enrolled at a prestigious ballet school yet had never seen ballet.
    His progress has been astonishing and any fans of dance will be mesmerised by this film, I suspect.
    As I've already said, this is a foreign field to me so, while I enjoyed parts of the movie, there were swathes, where dance is discussed in great depth, which left me a bit cold.
    I wanted to know more about Anne Bass's motivation and how the relationship between Sy and her developed.
    But, probably because she produced and directed the documentary, she keeps a very low profile on screen.
    In fact, it becomes, straightforwardly, a homage to him.
    So, as a non-dance fan, I'm giving it 6/10, while accepting that those who are more into the subject would rate it much higher.

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330. Dancing Across Borders


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