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Dancing scene 

Occasionally as a writer, I am lucky enough to observe incredible moments during an artist's creative process (and to get paid for it!). Watching choreographer Sally Morgan and her crew of local and German contact dancers and skateboarders during rehearsals for the dance film decoding the undertow for a Coast cover story (see the archives--I can't get the damn link to work), was a thrilling experience--in part, I must confess, because I was convinced someone was going to get seriously hurt while jumping over each other on skateboards (if you freeze the one second I'm in the film, I'm probably wincing). There are two parts to this screening. The first is a dance film directed by Morgan and German dance filmmaker, Marcus Behrens, for ARTE Television in Europe. The second is a behind-the-scenes look at the process and the characters involved (and they're characters), directed by Haligonian expat Colin Mackenzie. Unfortunately Morgan and Mackenzie weren't there for the screening.It was interesting that they chose to show the dance film first, but I think it was the right decision--like DVD special features--and provided a solid context for contact dancing, and why it was such a such a risk (physically and emotionally) to combine dance and skate culture. There are some fun scenes too, including a workshop with Toronto artist Sandy Plotnikoff--best known for his wearable and intervention art--where the six dancers dressed up in costumes and rode a giant skateboard down Citadel Hill. Don't try this at home, kids. decoding was also a demonstration of being prepared for the unprepared. Shot in various locations around the city and in the Valley, weather became another character in a film with a limited budget and shooting time; much to the chagrin of the German director, who predicted as much.Dance and film can be a hard sell, and even some dancers believe that nothing comes close to live performance, but decoding is as darn close as you're going to get with the knowledge that the dancers are not going to land on their heads.

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