Jig (2011)

December 5, 2011 at 9:35 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I missed this at the International Film Festival, and so was keen to catch it when it came on regular release at the Paramount theatre.

Jig, as its name suggests, is about Irish Dancing. It follows a number of contestants as they prepare for the 2010 world championships in 2010. Sue Bourne has done a good job of showing the human side of and the hard work put by dancers. The support and sacrifice of the dancers’ families is also revealed : the mother who works extra to support his son; the mother who has mortgaged her house twice to finance one more year; and the family who moved from California to study with one of best instructors in the world.

The dresses the girls wear are so expensive that one mother went into business making them to cut down on costs.

Joe Bitter’s family moved from sunny California to Birmingham, so Joe could take classes with John Carey – eight times world champion.

Also at John’s school is 10 year old John Whitehurst – who comes from a family of soccer playing boys. It is his mum who works extra hours to pay for the lessons and competitions. It is his dad who sums up the quirky image of Irish Dancing: “it was like a Shirley Temple convention” of their first competition.

Irish dancing is shown as a global activity: New York, Birmingham, Derry, London, Moscow, and Rotterdam. There is the team of dancers with high hopes from Moscow; and the trans-atlantic (friendly) rivalry between two 10 year old girls: Brogan McCay and Julia O’Rourke.

The dancing itself is superb. This style of dance does not use the hands, so many of the bio-mechanical techniques available in other dance styles is not available; dancers must somehow maintain control during turns and jumps with only their legs. This combined with a very turned out foot position and fast percussive moves must be very stressful physically.

Good little documentary. The story is told through the dancers’ perspective – speaking frankly and with a quiet charm.

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