One of the great pleasures of my life has been having the chance to follow along (and sometimes blog) the work of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Moze Mossanen, who happens to be (without any prejudice) Canada's premier dance filmmaker. He's been doing it for at least twenty-five years, but each film finds something brand new to say about what dance is and why we continue to be entranced by it. Moze is in love with dance as I have never known anyone to be, and I say this as someone who studied myself for ten years and whose mother structures her week around dance performances. Whether he is taking apart a known work in order to climb inside it with the dancers, or standing back with the choreographer to watch a new work unfold the way an uncle stands behind a delivery room window, he is always engaged at the level of his heart with what dance has to offer us as insight into the inevitabilities of the human spirit. In the past, he has created his own dance stories, and then commissioned choreographers and companies to produce them in partnership with major broadcasters and other funding agencies. Whether it is the music of Joni Mitchell (in From Time to Time), or the literature of Daniel Defoe (which inspired Roxana), or dynamism and courage of a great dancer (which sparked Nureyev), Moze often draws from real-life situations, artists and works to spin his own dance world imaginatively to life. Perhaps his greatest gift, then, is being able to intuit what is going on in the hearts and minds of dancers themselves and share it with the world.
It is this gift that he brings to bear on his gorgeous documentary film Romeos and Juliets, which was aired on CBC earlier this year after a premiere in a Toronto theatre. Observing the creation of a brand new production of Romeo and Juliet for the National Ballet of Canada, he chronicles the path of five possible opening night couples to the finish line where only one can be the debuting artists. In this age of 'reality tv' soap opera and excessive highs and lows, it is characteristic of his own sensibilties that his witness is often to the silent, less conspicuous moments of triumph and disappointment. With an almost intuitive control of the superarching narrative, he delivers one of the finest documentaries of recent memory. Besides being an exquisite filmmaker, he is also one of the funniest people I know. Take a moment and read here about the making of the doc in his own words - - and then go to this link and enjoy the film itself.