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  • Miles Hedley


Dance films have to be so much more than just performances captured on film – they have to be cinematic artworks in their own right. And the very best of the two dozen shown at the first-ever London International Screen Dance Festival at Laban theatre were exactly that.

All the films, which ranged from two to 15 minutes long, had important things to say about art, politics and what it is to be human. Some told their stories in a straightforward way, others chose symbolic or even surreal routes.

Three works in particularly jumped off the screen for me – and in the process summed up the success of this festival.

And So Say All Of Us (top), by Mitchell Rose, was a brilliantly edited, witty yet deeply moving montage of 52 top choreographers paying tribute in dance to Joseph V Melillo, for 35 years the executive producer of the world famous Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Mass (above), by French duo Fu Le and Adrien Gongier, was a dazzlingly shot single-take 10-minute film about one man against the crowd which could almost have been a homage to Alfred Hitchcock with its technical virtuosity, sinister atmosphere and flowing movement in which the camera was as much a performer as any of the dancers.

Creatures (below), by Daria Lippi, shared Mass’s French roots and post-industrial setting but instead of darkness it opted for unexpurgated beauty as a girl mysteriously encountered a racehorse in the ruins of a huge manufacturing complex. It was bizarre but breathtaking.

The organisers hope this festival will become a regular two-yearly event. On the evidence of audience reactions to this opener, I don’t think they have much to worry about.

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