IMPRESSIONS: “And Then We Danced,” a Film by Levan Akin
Director/Writer: Levan Akin
Dancers: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili
Producers: Mathilde Dedye, Ketie Danelia // Distributors: Music Box Films and Totem Films
Director of photography: Lisabi Fridell // Editor: Levan Akin, Simon Carlgren
Music: Zviad Mgebry & Ben Wheeler
The young cinematographer, Lisabi Fridell, frames the dancers often from the waist up, so we see shoulders bouncing, fists punching, and torsos twisting violently. Merab's lips curve with every emotional flicker, and his eyes fill with light or pain. For someone who had never acted before, Levan Gelbakhiani (Merab) might be an Oscar contender himself.
The film demands that you, the viewer, engage immediately and unceasingly with the protagonists and their plight, leaving you drained and astounded. Fridell dances with the cast, using a rare fluidity and intuitive genius. Outside of the many shots of dancers in the rehearsal studio, street, clubs, and parties, she captures the beauty of Tbilisi and its soulful music, which slows to a meditative, painterly pace, especially for the surprisingly tender trysts.
And Then We Danced succeeds in ways hard to replicate, such as the chemistry among the leads. The conflict between the individual and the state is expressed at the beginning by the rehearsal director, who declares that there is no place for weakness in Georgian dance, neither for sex nor impure thoughts. The eyes must be downcast to the floor, he says. Beyond leaving the country, the only recourse against repression is to rebel through creativity, which is cleverly expressed in Merab's final solo.
Certainly, this is a film for every dance enthusiast! However, you will have to wait until February 7, 2020 when it opens in theaters worldwide.