Friday, April 17, 2015

Desert Dancer: A Story That Matters

Dance movies are generally about exuberant exhibitionism, about people who are so proud of the remarkable things they can do with their body that they want to share them with the world. That’s ultimately [young Iranian dancer] Afshin [Ghaffarian]’s goal, too, but to get to that place of creative freedom, he must first endure [in a country where dancing is forbidden] a gauntlet of suspicion and repression, where he cultivates his gifts in secrecy out of pragmatic necessity.

As a result, [director Richard Raymond's] Desert Dancer is an unusually quiet, even hushed dance movie. Many of the film’s most powerful moments are free of dialogue, and some of its most powerful sequences eschew sound altogether. Desert Dancer is blessed by a powerful sincerity. The filmmakers clearly believe the bromides offered about the life-affirming power of dance and artistic expression. The conviction that this story matters and deserves to be taken seriously gets the film over its occasional rough patches.

Dance movies and musicals often set out to leave audiences with the proverbial song in their heart. Desert Dancer, in sharp contrast, would rather they depart with a deeper appreciation of the power of dancing with or without song, whether it’s the kind other people can hear, or just the kind that exists deep within our souls.

– Nathan Rabin
Excerpted from Desert Dancer: a Review
The Dissolve
April 9, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Dancing Against the Devil: In Desert Dancer, an Underground Troupe Defies the Rulers of Iran – Bill Newcott (AARP, April 9, 2015).
Footloose Iranian Students Defy the Ayatollahs in a Generic Biopic of Dancer Afshin Ghaffarian – Scott Foundas (Variety, April 8, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Dancer and the Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
A Beautiful Collaboration
The Church and Dance
The Soul of a Dancer

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