Movement One / Ponydance
A Dance:Film 2013 documentary double bill with contrasting atmospheric and humourous approaches
It’s hard to imagine two companies approaching contemporary dance in more contrasting ways than the subjects of this diverse double-bill. In Movement One, American choreographer Teddy Forance takes us to the dark side of the human psyche, fusing contemporary and hip hop styles to create a deeply atmospheric work that never raises a smile – nor does it need to. Belfast-based dance troupe Ponydance, on the other hand, are all about the crack. Led by choreographer Leonie McDonagh, the posse gets more laughs during its live shows than most comedians.
So while putting Movement One and Ponydance: the Movie next to each on a double-bill may not be complementary, it’s a clever way for the Dance:Film festival to prove there’s more than one way to cook a dance egg.
The most remarkable thing about Movement One is that it took just eight days to create. From walking into a studio with 20 dancers (some of whom knew each other, most of whom didn’t) to filming the end result, Forance and composer Jon Arpino achieved a minor miracle. While most dance films either show you the creative process or the end result, Movement One does both. We watch as the steps slowly come together, the dancers gel, the score gets tweaked. We look on in amazement as Forance (who also dances the lead role) hobbles into the studio on crutches on day five, unable to dance but clear-headed enough to re-cast his role and choreograph from a seated position. Then, when we’re fully invested in the project, we’re able to sit back and watch the finished result – a 30 minute film of Forance’s vision made real. A murky cave, a journey from darkness to enlightenment (both mentally and physically) a plethora of engaging choreography, strong performances, and astute decisions by director Jesse Atlas make Movement One a fascinating and enjoyable ride.
Anybody who has seen Ponydance perform live will know that they’re deadly serious about being funny. However ridiculous the outfits, choreography or banter, the hard work and thought that goes into producing the company’s output is never in question. Spoken primarily in Irish Gaelic, with English subtitles, this ‘mockumentary’ follows Ponydance as they recruit new members and rehearse their latest show. It’s a brief insight into McDonagh’s mind as she pulls the production together, mixed with rehearsal shots and clips from the live show itself. Nothing, however, compares to seeing this hilarious troupe in action, and while this short film succeeds in demonstrating the comic capabilities of McDonagh’s team, you need to share a room with them to know just how good at dancing they really are.