Welcome to Reel Motion, a series of blog posts that will examine the Northrop Film Series selections. Find out more about Ceux qui dansent sur la tête (Those Who Dance Upside Down), screening Wed, Oct 24 before Compagnie Käfig’s performance of Pixel on Sat, Nov 3.
A League of Their Own. Rocky. Hoosiers. Rudy.
All of these films are tales of underdogs winning against all odds in the world of sports. But, at Northrop, we program a dance film series, not a sports film series. Still, Ceux qui dansent sur la tête (Those Who Dance Upside Down) shares many thematic touchstones with those sports-genre favorites.
Rather than chronicling the struggle to succeed in the worlds of baseball, boxing, basketball, or football, this film focuses on the sport of dance. The stakes for protagonists Syl and Frenzy are more personal than winning the big game. The journey these two young men, bonded in friendship by their love of hip-hop, share explores the emotional toll that "making it" can take on an artist's family life and relationships.
Rather than providing a backdrop or becoming a sort-of Macguffin for the protagonists, dance and the characters’ consuming need to express themselves through this form of art is a driving presence in the film. For added verisimilitude, this film features dancers from Käfig as well as assistant choreographer Marjorie Hannoteaux. Mourad Merzouki, director of the NCC of Crétil/Companie Käfig served as the choreographic consultant, certainly contributing to that sense of drive in the ubiquitous practice montages. He also contributed a portion of an existing work from Käfig's repertoire, Boxe Boxe, to the climax of the film.
Though fictional, Ceux qui dansent sur la tête makes a great complementary and contrasting introduction to the world of Käfig and the work of Merzouki. See it to prepare for the mind-blowing experience that is Pixel at Northrop Nov 3.
Shayna Houp is Northrop's Artist Services Manager and curates the Film Series each season.