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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Arts > Last Dance (2002/Documentary)

Last Dance (2002/Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Documentary: B-



The Holocaust has been expressed in almost every artform possible, yet there is always hesitation and suggestion when it is in an artform not used to dealing with such subject matter.  Mirra Bank’s Last Dance (2002) focuses on the remarkable dance ensemble of The Pilobolus Dance Theatre bring to life the in-progress work of illustrator Maurice Sednak, which is bold, clever, takes remarkable dancing talent and daring on the part of the troop.  This includes nudity, which is difficult enough, but is especially tricky when dealing with genocide.


For those concerned that ballet and dance may be arts in trouble, this program is a must-see and must-have.  Instead of the stuffy, pretentious, culturally walled (read excluding) approach too many such programs have taken, this is honest, blunt and of the moment.  That is not as easy as just taping people as they work.  Bank and her co-editor Axuse Espinosa have come up with a way to load the 84 minutes up with as much of the creative process and final result as possible, though they could have even went further and allowed this to be longer.  This was shot on tape after all.  She also manages to show the performers to best advantage, which adds a vital layer to seeing dance as a vital performing art.


The anamorphically enhanced 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image was shot on videotape, so calling this a film is pushing it, though theatrical screenings would use film prints only.  Here, this is off of the video master, which is sufficient for what it is.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no Pro Logic surrounds to speak of, even with the use of music throughout.  The presentation is fine for what it is, certainly clean on both fronts.  Extras include trailers for this and other First Run DVDs, a stills gallery, interview with Bank from a public TV series, biography ext on those involved and four featurettes.  One of them deals specifically with each of the exceptionally talented dancers, all of whom I believe we have not heard the last of.


As for the final ballet itself, though the entire result is not shown, it does n to seem to trivialize The Holocaust.  If Sednak had lesser performers, this could have been a disaster.  Fortunately for all, so many things worked.  It would be nice to see this happen more often.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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