Everyday Activist - Moving Stories (2018)

Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 05:00 PM

Moving Stories (2018)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Here come the dance movie reviews! Kanopy has several that I’ve watched, even though I missed watching Cunningham at the Calgary International Film Festival. My research interest in dance examines how artistic expression through movement can change lives for the better. Last year, America’s Got Talent featured dancers from the slums of India. Their costume quality at successive performances track their success. In Moving Stories, one of the groups Dancing to Connect helps is from Indian slums among other regions.

The Battery Dance Company out of New York City has local and international performances. Partnering with non-profit organizations, they use dance as an outreach program called Dancing to Connect, which started in public schools. Professional dancers help marginalized people express themselves without words. Most of the children in the program have suffered abuse, poverty and racism.

When the visiting dancers come to a country, they work with the children to build a routine around a theme. The resulting choreography is performed for an audience at the end of the week. Given the strict time frame, the teachers work the students hard. Culturally, East Indian girls learn dance from Bollywood movies and to respect their elders. Their program had little drama, unlike Clement’s group in Romania. He ended up having to ask a performer to leave, because she was disrupted giving others license to also be disrespectful. While Mira had a lovely group of Romanian children who expressed how dance evoked emotions of acceptance and freedom in a world where poverty restricted much of their opportunities.

In Korea, some of the children had to participate, creating additional challenges for the teachers. Dance brings up overwhelming amounts of emotion, which can be uncomfortable for anyone new to the art. As long as the children have support and can enjoy themselves the process becomes easier for them. Even though the instructors have run Dancing to Connect so many times they know everything will work out, anxiety remains that maybe this time it won’t. South Korea had the most beautiful theatre for the children to perform their dance routine.

As much as I dislike Facebook, the platform does bring people together. A young Iranian man, Adel, loved to dance and reached out to The Battery Dance Company for training. The president and artistic director, Jonathan Hollander, looked after Adel. Jonathan organized online lessons with his instructors. Even with all his nation and international accolades and connections, he admitted having trouble arranging a visa to dance at a festival in a neighboring country. Through persistence Adel was able to perform.

Dance gives people a chance to express themselves in ways they never thought possible within their lifetime. Unstable countries where violence is constant, lives are often cut short. The film delicately and beautifully handles one of these situations. I’m glad the performance and the artist's words were captured on film to be shared as dance unlike other art forms live in the moment with no two moments ever being the same. Moving Stories is available via Kanopy through the Calgary Public Library.

Calgary Showtimes:  Moving Stories >


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