Last Dance

on May 03, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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   There's a moment recorded in this before-the-scenes documentary about a collaboration between the famed Pilobolus Dance Theatre and children's author/illustrator Maurice Sendak ("Where the Wild Things Are") in which Sendak enters the troupe's practice floor after we have seen Pilobolus' three artistic directors talking behind the author's back about difficulties they've encountered working with him. What we don't see is what Sendak was doing during that time of their conversation--this being a one-camera-crew effort--and so not only is the staging unfair but also the true climax of that moment is lost. And so it is with a good deal of "Last Dance": Much seems to be missing.

   What is captured during the conceptual process doesn't add up to a sufficient explanation of what the final dance work, "The Selection," became in its final form, and what is there is none too provocative. Nor, shot on video, is "Last Dance" especially good looking. What is intriguing, however fitfully reported, is watching the disconnect between the plot-centered Sendak, who wants to tell a Holocaust-themed tale, and Pilobolus, who are much more attuned to the plotless world of motion. As it turns out, the troupe knows better. They also know better than director Mirra Bank ("Enormous Changes at the Last Minute"): The only section of "Last Dance" that really works is its end when, Bank's story having concluded, part of a performance of "The Selection" is shown.    Directed by Mirra Bank. Produced by Mirra Bank and Vic Losick. A First Run release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 84 min.

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