Am I Paris?

 In Lens on Screendance

I love subtlety and nuance in dance.

Whether on stage or screen, it can be a gift to an audience.

“Here…” the dance maker seems to whisper… “Take this from me and feel, think, make of it what you will.”

But I also love when a work – regardless of the art form – thunders into view, unabashedly, unapologetically true to itself, offering no narrative, no explanations for its existence, yet commanding you by sheer passion and irrationality to follow along.  Such is the case – at least for this viewer – with Am I Paris?

Featuring an extremely hairy creature – somewhat reminiscent of Cousin It from the Addams Family but without the shades and hat – balancing on Paris rooftops and bounding down its streets past truly bewildered pedestrians, Am I Paris comes on strong, and pulls no punches.  Written, choreographed, conceived of, and danced by Brice Larrieu – aka “Skorpion Dancer” – this two-minute film takes you by storm and leaves you, literally, diving off a ledge.

Filmed entirely in black and white, the movement is captured brilliantly by camera, which travels in sync with the creature at surprising speeds, offering wonderful angles and points of view while highlighting Paris’ beautiful architecture. The camera switches locations with the music while hyper-match cutting the movement between edits.  It reminds me just slightly of the old classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (and I do not mean the 1996 animated confection) and is scored with Prokofiev’s commanding “Dance of the Knights” from Romeo and Juliet. What I love most is the film’s absurdity and complete lack of narrative. Plus, the use of such an iconic, ballet score accompanying something so completely other, is a wonderful anomaly. Particularly funny moments are when the creature meets up with a group of street dancers, a headless man, and especially when it breaks the fourth wall by “conducting” the score.

Am I Paris was beautifully directed by Redha Medillekh, who hosted the TV show “Dance Around the World,” and the fantastic creature costume was designed by Charlie Le Mindu, an “avant-garde hair artist” using real human hair. Skorpion Dancer performs internationally working with artists including Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Taylor Swift.

In the wake of Covid, or at least on partial hiatus from it, this four-year-old film – how did I not see this until now??? –  is wildly refreshing and pure, brilliant, fun.

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