Crazy Horse

July 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Dance Review, DVD Review, Film Review, Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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The 41st Wellington Film Festival is on; I went to Federick Wiseman’s Crazy Horse – a film about the Paris nightclub of the same name.

The film is made in the same style as Wiseman’s La danse: fly-on-the-wall over a few days, apparently without much editing.

This particular screening was very fly-on-th-wall: there were no sub-titles! The audience got to experience the French, a tiny bit of Russian (at least one of the dancers is Russian), and a short burst of English, unassisted. The disconnect created by not understanding the dialogue made for a surreal experience; the slow bleed of people leaving the film and the staff announcements about ‘technical difficulties’ added a performance art nuance.

The dancers are technically very proficient – though the sway back, bottom accentuating posture must make their former ballet teachers grind their teeth. And of course the dancers are very good looking. There is lots of nudity; the dancers are clearly comfortable with their bodies and being unclothed, the practical needs of quick costume changes means that they wonder around backstage without much on.

The Crazy Horse nightclub visual esthetic is not at all raunchy – the naked body is so clinically presented and adorned that the naked aspect of the performance is not the focal point. (Or maybe there was so much nudity I became accustomed to it!)

Most of the film is of the dancers on stage or of dancers rehearsing or new sequences being put together – so no aural comprehension is required. There are meetings of the back office staff; by the body language, especially the hand waving its not all plain sailing at the nightclub – we just don’t know what the disturbance are about.

So even without sub-titles it is a good watch. If you are watching in a theatre that serves drinks, order champagne – it will be just like being in Paris at the club!


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