Blind Passion – Raw Cut

Blind Passion – Raw Cut


Reviewed by: Chris

The release notes say: “Devised through passion for dance, and the body as a work of art in itself, this visual fest has evolved into an explosion of seductive delights. With the use of blindfolds, the dancers show great trust and honesty towards each other to tell their tale. Through intricate contact work sprinkled with Tango influences, the dancers and choreography move smoothly, subtly becoming more revealing and dynamic, challenging the audience with intrigue and question. This work contains nudity.”

Close contact work involves great trust and honesty between dancers anyway. Blind Passion – Raw Cut has the added challenge that the two dancers are here partially working in the nude. I am not so much concerned that they have bitten off more than they can chew, but wonder if they have bitten decisively enough into their own experiment.

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Firstly, the challenge of nudity and the sexual implications. Dancers in contact workshops – usually fully clothed - often feel a continuous communication on a deep level. There is an almost emotional sensitivity through the effortless flow of movement, remaining fully in touch. It becomes a continuous learning – about oneself and the person one is dancing with. Danny Lepkoff has described it well: “Two people move together, in contact, maintaining a spontaneous physical dialogue through the kinaesthetic sensual signals of shared weight and common or counterpoised momentum. The body, in order to open to the sensations of momentum, weight, and balance, must learn to release excess muscular tension and abandon a certain amount of wilful volition to the natural flow of movement at hand.”

I was at a workshop when a student once asked the British teacher, Janis Claxton, about the issue of sexual feelings. She thought about it, and replied that she had experienced them when she was fairly new to the dance. It was quite natural. But she had to ask herself if she was more interested in the nice sexual feelings or the dancing. She realised it was the latter.

So there is an obvious question when watching a film like this, where the eye-catching blurb says, “contains nudity.” Are you more interested in the nakedness or the dance?

It’s a very tasteful film, and the use of the body as a work of art in itself is, I think, quite well realised. We see them on a bare dance floor mostly bathed in reddish light. At times they are partly clothed and at other times they are nude. What I didn’t see though was any ‘explosion of seductive delights’ and I felt that it lacked the dramatic intensity I might have hoped for having been told it was ‘sprinkled with Tango influences.’

This use of the body as a work of art has been used to some extent in Body Balance dances, where the slow movements and taut muscles produce something akin to sculpture. This is closer to ‘moving sculpture.’ There is a noticeable body tension between players, a visible dynamic that is reminiscent of Tango. But is this perhaps harder to achieve fully when the dancers are nude – especially, as in this case, the dancers seem at pains to avoid any sexual overtones? They are, like the statues of classical gods, better off when nude than partially clothed, but they don’t seem to have quite decided whether the dance is to be eroticised or, as it would appear, not. (Fans of Catherine Breillat’s cinema might enjoy comparing what she might have produced with a similar brief.)

Nude contact dance is not entirely new. Dancer-filmmaker Yvonne Rainer, in an attempt to demythologise the body sexually, has occasionally introduced nudity in the same detached way as she would introduce an unexpected prop. This includes work with Steve Paxton, regarded as the founder of Contact Improvisation.

But if we have removed any emotional concerns about sexuality that clutter our eyes as to the dance itself, does Blind Passion have something to say artistically?

Probably the best scene for me is when the two dancers are mirrored for a moment, creating four. One mirror image is clothed, the other nude. It seems to suggest, together with other aspects of the piece, how an intimate connection can exist irrespective of superficial layers or barriers. Imagine, if you will, two lovers that meet at a railway station after a long separation. At the moment they clasp each other, can they not sense every pore of each other’s body? The mind goes beyond the physical limitation. It is a passion as distinct from anything sexual.

Blind Passion – Raw Cut is an aesthetically acceptable and pleasing piece of work. But can the nudity and reddish light justify the title? My present perception is that it hasn’t fully worked out its meaning of how passion - for the dance or of any other kind – is demonstrated beyond what we see in any two dancers passionate about their dance. But what do I know, someone else may well reach a totally different conclusion. In any case, successful or not, I do feel Blind Passion is an important experiment, whether it achieves what it sets out to achieve or is simply a stepping stone towards a future goal.

Reviewed on: 25 May 2009
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Naked dancers perform a tango-inflected routine.
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Director: Aurora Fearnley

Year: 2008

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: UK


Dancefilm 2009

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