DANCE ON!
Director: Henrike Sandner
Length: 53 min.
© 2022, a BFMI production in co-production with ZDF and Arte
Feat. GESINE MOOG, WILLIAM MOORE, POLINA SEMIONOVA & FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

When you’re a young dancer, you like to fill rooms with your energy, which is tied to a young, capable body. But as you get older, you start to reduce to what you want to say. So when is it time to say goodbye to dance? Finding the right balance, the answer might be ‘Never!’

It is the illusion of weightlessness and at the same time a romantic cliché: graceful aerial beings floating across the stage like fairies in tulle skirts. Whoever thinks of dance as an art form inevitably carries images of seemingly endlessly flexible bodies, full of beauty, strength and youth. But the impression of lightness is deceptive. Thousands and thousands of hours of training are necessary to shape a dancer‘s body for the stage - this applies to ballet as well as to contemporary dance. Dance art is hard physical work and, as in high-performance sport, the pressure to perform is high. This takes its toll. Dancers grow old very early. With few exceptions, most dancers reach their zenith at forty. The duet with their own transience begins and a possible farewell to the stage becomes foreseeable. But quitting is a difficult process. Dancers remain dancers, even if their bodies set them limits.

The dance profession requires dedication, discipline, giving the best and performing more than one can. But dance also thrives on how the movements and characters are filled with life and emotion to captivate the audience. Because of their range of dynamic emotions, older dancers are unsurpassed at “telling” a story, calling up their personal feelings to symbolise a drama or fantasy. Youthful virtuosity is replaced by the internalisation of emotions in the body. Any dancer who has trained and danced for decades and has the ability to be still and change space and time through their presence cannot be overlooked. In most Western societies, the perception of aging is still predominantly negative. Physical decay is a visible sign that something is over, which is especially true in the dance world.

At the same time, the increasing life experience allows many dancers to develop this magical radiance that they would never have achieved as young dancers. This is an artistic potential that is interesting and appealing to many choreographers, because they no longer focus solely on the ideal body, but on dancers whose personality helps to shape the movement. In this way, traditional expectations of technical perfection and the glorification of youth are increasingly being called into question.

The film accompanies the four world-renowned dancers Friedemann Vogel (Principal dancer at The Stuttgart Ballet), Polina Semionova (Principal dancer at Staatsballett Berlin), contemporary dancer Gesine Moog (Dance On Ensemble, Berlin), and William Moore (Principal Dancer at Ballett Zurich) part of the way. All four offer personal insights into their dance careers and reflect on this threshold of “transition”.

With the contributions of choreographers Jiří Kylián and Marcia Haydée, Christian Spuck, Jan Martens, Ty Boomershine as well as former principal dancer at Het Nationale Ballet, Anna Seidl.