Last Dance (2002/Documentary)
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