Assorted Film and Theater

MOVIE DANCING, NOT DANCE

Recently I have seen two movies, each with dancing. I say dancing instead of dance. The movies are KILLER OF SHEEP and THE EXILES.

In the first, KILLER OF SHEEP, a couple, terribly separated emotionally by their difficult circumstance, barely moves in a slow dance. The woman wants her man and he is unable to respond. The sequence is long, the length of a song. The dancing has no beginning. Our attention is not grabbed. There are no steps. There is no finale.

Even as a dancer I have always preferred the non-dance. Dance is positions and choreography. I must note here that Nureyev, Graham, Cunningham and the like, do not finish in poses. A great dancer moves through a dance. Even when Nureyev struck an ending you still felt his reach.
Dancing is luscious and emergent.
In THE EXILES, Rico shows off in the bar for the woman he wants. He is humorous and subtle. He makes the occasional flourish. He has no plan. And in another section, the Indians escape from the bar to Hill X where tribal sounds and movements start to leak out of them. Their stifled release is disturbing and magnificent.

Dance is all around us. Sadly, the striking of positions pleases and blinds the crowd. Adulation of posers is a celebration of exhibitionism.
But in KILLER OF SHEEP and THE EXILES dancing mesmerizes us with absolute truth. You cannot pinpoint a beginning or an end to dancing.

—Sissy Boyd

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2 responses to “Assorted Film and Theater

  1. Gunfighters & friends: Read Sissy Boyd’s “in the plain turn of the body make a sentence” published by Les Figues Press… Two plays with an introduction by Guy Zimmerman. I just read them with great admiration. “Green Shoes” was produced in LA in 2001, directed by Sissy, featuring Wes Walker who also designed lighting, with music by Sharon Heather Smith. The play contains the stage direction: “(four minutes of music. the three move forward and back as they speak)” The dialogue referred to by this direction is only four brief lines, spoken by two of three characters.

    Sissy confirms, “Yes, at this point in the play I had them walk forward then back for four minutes.”

  2. guy zimmerman

    That was a very beautiful production, Sissy mounted. And her comments on dance are illuminating. I think of the figure of Shiva in various tantric disciplines, the Shiva Nataraj that expresses the cycles of continuous transformation. Such an embodied and dynamic metaphor, dance, and Sissy’s comments illuminate how things look from the inside of that art form looking out. As do her plays, for that matter – language somehow snatched while the writer is in motion, rising and sinking and rising again.

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