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Last Dance

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Shot over eight months, this exhilarating 2002 video by Mirra Bank documents the stormy but productive collaboration between Pilobolus Dance Theatre, an experimental company that choreographs its works through improvisation, and children's author Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), who arrives at the rehearsals with a rather sketchy Holocaust narrative and must guard his vision of it like a bulldog as the six dancers and three artistic directors translate it into motion. Bank plays up the conflict between Sendak and director Jonathan Wolken, who minces no words when assessing the story's weaknesses; only when Sendak produces his magical designs for the costumes and set does his vision of the piece crystallize. But the real drama lies in the extended improv sessions, as the extraordinarily expressive dancers discover the movements that will bring the tale to life onstage. 84 min. Gene Siskel Film Center.

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