Toronto
1 min

Delicate light

Needs bolder passions

Credit: Xtra files

Putting dance on film is like playing artistic Russian roulette. It is an ambitious endeavour that makes worlds collide and should not be attempted by amateurs.



Four-time Gemini Award-nominee Laura Taler is no stranger to the risky game of mixing dance and film.



For her latest work, Perpetual Motion, Taler employs direct cinema, simply letting the camera roll and letting the subject matter tell the story itself instead of trying to contrive and construct a meaning.



Perpetual Motion follows the creative process of two men, Canadian dancer José Navas and cellist Walter Haman, as they collaborate together on a piece.



Like looking at a photograph of a photograph, Taler’s film layers the dance and music. They exist in the film as they happen, in images on television sets and cameras and in mirrors and reflections, helping the two media to intertwine and leaving the viewer to feel as if they were privy to the intimate rehearsal process.



Perpetual Motion is beautifully shot. The slow moving dance images are contrasted with fast-paced recordings of nature and urban street scenes. The entire film basks in light with highlighted faces, silhouettes, sweat-stained bodies, the sensuality of fingers on the neck of a cello, the inked beauty of sheet music and a continuous eminence of natural light.



Where the film falters is in its slow pace and confusing random threads – the philosophical rants about life and the existence of God and misplaced shots of parked cars. At 49 minutes, the piece feels too long.



Perpetual Motion airs on the CBC’s Opening Night, and is billed as “highly sexually charged.” The piece is no such thing, perhaps for a tame and sheltered public broadcasting audience but certainly not for your seasoned art fag.



The piece touches briefly on the fact that Navas and Haman were once lovers. But this exists in passing mention and is seen only in the gay male drama about whether or not cellist Haman should go topless during the performance.



The original dance piece was worked on for two years and has toured internationally. Navas is obviously an accomplished and communicative dancer and Haman’s playing of Zoltan Kodaly, Alan Hovhaness and Benjamin Britten is grave, stark and stirring and nurses both the dance and the film.



Perpetual Motion manages to be bright, delicate and illuminated; it’s sensual fare for the more subtle art connoisseur.



PERPETUAL MOTION.

8pm. Thu, Nov 20.

CBC TV.