Essential Dance Film – There is a Place

Poignant and powerful describes this short dance film, There is a Place. The film features dancer/choreographer Sang Jijia and was created by two Scottish film makers; filmed and directed by Katrina McPherson and edited by Simon Fildes. The soundtrack is by Philip Jeck.

This film, There is a Place, won the Jury prize for the best Screen Dance Short in the Dance Film Festival in San Francisco, 2011. It was initiated as an international artists exchange to create a new work and to promote greater cultural exchange between Scotland and China/Hong Kong in 2010.

Katrina McPherson and Simon Fildes are two prominent film makers from Scotland who have previous experience working with dance. Sang Jijia is a Tibetan born renowned modern dancer and choreographer.

Sang Jijia was initially destined to become a Tibetan monk but instead destiny led him to become the first professionally trained modern dancer from Tibet. In the 1990’s, Jijia danced with China’s first modern dance company, Guangdong Modern Dance Company and later City Contemporary Dance Company of Hong Kong. Jijia’s training and creative work have taken him to the States and other countries where he has had the opportunity to study and work with Western Contemporary choreographers. In early 2000 through the Rolex Mentor and Protégée Arts Imitative he was selected to study choreography one on one with his “hereo” William Forsythe. He stayed on to work with Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet and later with the William Forsythe Company for four years. In 2006, he went back to China to create more works and is currently working as resident artist of both LDTX/Beijing Dance and the Chinese Guangdong Modern Dance Company. Jijia has won numerous awards for his work both nationally and internationally and has choreographed for many companies abroad. He is featured in this film, There is a Place, in an unlikely setting far from his homeland in Tibet but his performance in parts have overtones reminiscent of William Forsythe, which I found on first viewing, an enexpected surprise!.

This film was shot in the town hall of a small village and the beautiful country side in the Scottish Highlands. It was created from the conept of “Place and Belonging” both internally and externally as is metaphorically suggested by the two contrasting spaces. We see the stark contrast between the bare hall and lined chairs with the rich colors of the wide open field and cloud filled sky. The first shot opens on the green field and dynamic lit sky over laid with whispered text suggesting a powerful spiritual presence, and then we see the internal shot of the dancer sitting alone in a long row of chairs. He seems to be on the brink or edge of some life and is poised to move toward the light. The dance slowly builds as the dancer advances and retreats with increased intensity taking us on those last moments of his resisting struggle before he finally “let’s go”.

The solo is an introspective journey that is raw, intimate and minimal making it all the more powerful. I love the way the spaces are used; particularly the lined chairs in the stark room, with the rectangles of light illuminating the space over laid with the text and the bare table where much of the struggle is negotiated (which is an amazing sequence). Flashes of the field begin to appear half way through, which to me, suggest the beginning of the dancers release and ascent into the light of the spiritual world. This is how I interpret it. Whether it was intended or not, I think the subject is powerful. It speaks of the vulnerable, courageous and noble human struggle before the final acceptance and release against the whispered/eternal and compassionate, loving presence. It is beautifully rendered.

This is a beautiful dance film that has some strong images and edited sequences with an honest, pure and heartfelt performance of maturity and depth from a unique dancer

Enjoy this strong and moving dance film and SHARE!


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