“Is dance who you are or what you do?” -Dr Beatriz Copello Reviews ‘…the dancer from the dance’

…the dancer from the dance. A Physical TV Company Production Presented as part of The Directors’ Cuts program in Performance Space’s YOU’RE HISTORY!, its thirtieth anniversary season, on November 30, 2013. (See below for future screenings).

Dancer Vicki Van Hout (Photograph – Ehran Edwards)
“…the dancer from the dance” is an innovative documentary directed by Karen Pearlman and produced by Richard James Allen which explores issues such as identity and culture and how these relate to dance.

The documentary starts with Pearlman dancing, with a voice-over talking about what it meant to her to be a dancer and what it meant to stop being a dancer and returning to her art after being ten years away from it. Pearlman raises questions such as: is being a dancer an identity, a culture, a waste of time? Is it a shared tradition in which a body of knowledge is passed from dancer to dancer?

According to many theorists a person’s artistic production is not the result of the artist but rather the result of the culture that comes through the artist. This post-structuralist view of culture asserts that self-identity is a construction and it develops from the interaction between the way we represent ourselves, power relations and our actual presentations. (Bertens, 2001)

This view of identity is somehow asserted in this documentary by the answers from the dancers who were interviewed and asked questions such as: “Is dance who you are or what you do? Can you tell the dancer from the dance?”

Dancers such as Imogen Crana, Kate Champion, Martin del Amo and many others reflect on what being a dancer means to them. Through their answers it becomes apparent that their identity is strongly attached to dancing. For some of them dance defines them. For others dance contributes to the sum of characteristics and roles that make their identity.

The profound reflections of these dancers are fascinating and intense, they reveal that behind this art, which involves body movements, there is a force that travels not only through them but through time, a force that goes from dancer to dancer and it is modified, embellished, transformed, and inherited sometimes through blood, other times through training and other times again as the result of the creative spirit in all artists.

This beautiful documentary tells us that although the movements that each dancer makes cannot be captured second by second, this art is transmitted from body to body and the dance movements are accumulated, captured, preserved and passed onto others who also would create new movements, new techniques and new emotions.

Dancer Richard James Allen (Photographer – Ehran Edwards)
It is lovely to see young dancers expressing themselves with words and body but it is also marvelous to see older dancers, not only moving gracefully but also to see the spirit of this art emanating from their whole persona. We can see through these older dancers that the dance owns a living and subtle history.

Two children: Samuel and Jadzea Allen with their intelligent and insightful comments reinforce the idea that dance can be part of our being. Jadzea says: “Dancing makes me think clearly.”

We know that identity is never given, part of it, if not in its totality, is born from what we do, what we want to be and how we define ourselves. After seeing this artistically beautiful documentary I believe that we cannot separate the … dancer from the dance.

– Dr Beatriz Copello


Dr Beatriz Copello’s is a Psychologist, poet and fiction writer, her poetry book Women Souls and Shadows, Bemac Publishing, 1992 received excellent reviews and was highly commended in the Wild and Wooley, 1993 Awards. Her novel Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria (1999) was published by Abbott Bentley in Sydney, and A Call to the Stars (1999) by Crown Publisher. Her book of poetry Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, (2001) was published by Interactive Publications -Glasshouse Books and Under the Gums’ Long Shade, Bemac Publication, (2009).

…the dancer from the dance will be screening next at the World of Women (WOW) Festival in Sydney on:

  • Wed 12/3/14 1.30pm DanceFocus WOW @ The Powerhouse Museum. Tickets
  • Thurs13/3/14 7pm Pop Up Cinema: Dance-Metro Screen.  Tickets


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