MOVE – Netflix Documentary Series

May 25, 2021

Martha Buss

Martha Buss

Opinion

Venue: Streamed via Netflix 
Date: 23 November 2020
Ticket price: Netflix monthly subscription

An intimate and inspiring look at the diversity and power of contemporary artists around the world.

Netflix presents MOVE, a five-part documentary series directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai that delves into the livelihoods of six choreographers from across the globe. Each with a dedicated episode, we are able to engage with the processes of Jon Boogz & Lil Buck, Ohad Naharin, Israel Galván, Kimiko Versatile and Akram Khan. MOVE provides a significant space, on a leading streaming service, for a wider understanding and perception of cross-cultural professional dance to be found.

The stripped-back yet intense filming style invites viewers to delve into the choreographer’s life, gaining insight into internal and external challenges they have faced (and continue to) whilst establishing themselves in the industry. Reflective interviews with both the individual and those close to them present an honest dialogue throughout the series. In each part, cameras follow the lead up to a production: from its creative roots, through studio rehearsals, to the performance itself. The choreographers’ featured are not shown as overly egotistic or simply promoting their work for commercial gain: the series successfully avoids this angle to provide space for viewers to identify their own curiosities and interests within their work.

With such intimate access, we see how the artists find inspiration from both existing and classical dance styles to push their own boundaries. It becomes clear that in the creation of contemporary dance one can often encounter conflict between tradition and new thinking. The reactive and emotive nature of movement is highlighted between episodes and how this snowballs into the desire to give back to communities is evident with each choreographer. Whether through activism, resistance or elevation there is a continual aspiration towards the next opportunity to use their creative voice.

It is all too easy to limit an understanding of dance to our comfort zones, prominently the beauty in Ballet, Ballroom and Lyrical movement. It was overwhelmingly refreshing to see committed episodes on more earthy and impulsive practices including GaGa technique and Kathak. Bringing attention to dance’s global discourse provides a snapshot into the cultural narratives at play in locations such as Jamaica, Florida and Israel. In this way, MOVE holds an important educational purpose for those with a true curious passion for variety within dance.

For me, the most provoking episode was that in which we follow Kimiko Versatile: a young and engaging practitioner who divulges her opinions on female leadership, the importance of claiming your own space and embracing your assets. Making bold statements on the possibilities within movement as well as the importance of celebrating individuality is intrinsic to her work in Dancehall and rightly demands respect.

MOVE’s representation of dance as a dynamic and diverse spectrum, going much deeper than throwaway light entertainment, elevates movement as an empowering platform and invites the viewer to contemplate definitions of dance. With the final episode meeting the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, viewers receive a firm reminder of how dance is an intrinsically present art.  

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