The Fruits of Tension
LAST DANCE: Pilobolus Dance Theater & Maurice Sendak
Review by Ross Anthony

This video-shot documentary captures the collaborating tensions and harmonies (mostly tensions) between a well-known storyteller/illustrator (Maurice Sendak) and a modern dance troupe (Pilobolus) as they create a Holocaust story (entitled "A Selection") in Dance.

The first hour plus captures the fun and play involved in evolving story from the human form. As one of the dancers puts it, "We come into the room with an open mind and active body." And active bodies they have! These performers are marvelous, pliable, muscular, beautiful, and able to move, stand, bend in acutely aesthetic manners -- they are sculpture in motion!

But how to get this close-knit group, already steadfast in their methods of creation, to gel with an outside creative force ... and one with a tragic yet undefined and fluid story to tell? That's where LAST DANCE finds its drama.

The result? I'm not sure it's fair to judge after seeing only "selected" segments, which play out in the documentaries last remaining 15 minutes. But, for the purposes of this review... I certainly enjoyed the opening highlights and improv/creation process far more than the final product (as presented here).

As for the camera work, all fine, save: I'd have suggested far more full body shots during the main performance. Use the close-in's extremely sparingly.

Still, the next time Pilobolus comes to town -- I want to be there!

LAST DANCE was presented via American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood ( as part of Dance Camera West (

Notes: On May 27th, "In the Mirror of Maya Deren" (another DanceCameraWest piece) will run at the Egyptian as well.

  • LAST DANCE: Pilobolus Dance Theater and Maurice Sendak. Copyright © 2002. 83 min.
  • Starring Maurice Sendak, Otis Cook, Gaspard Louis, Benjamin Pring, Rebecca Anderson, Josie Coyoc, Matt Kent, Robby Barnett, Michael Tracy, Jonathan Wolken, Arthur Yorinks.
  • Directed by Mirra Bank. Story by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorinks, Jonathan Molken, Michael Tracy, Robby Barnett.
  • Produced by Mirra Bank, Vic Losick presented by First Run Features. (c) 2002.

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Monday, 23-Apr-2007 15:05:57 PDT