And Then We Danced
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Georgian traditional dance - the sheer physicality of which is frequently jaw-dropping - takes centre stage in Levan Akin’s gay coming-of-age tale that is as courageous for its celebration of homosexuality in a country that still considers it "deviancy" as it is beautiful in the way its saturated colours and depth of field, so typical of Georgian filmmaking, suit the movements of the dance.
Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani, enthralling as both dancer and actor) falls for fellow dancer Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), and their slow coming together is reflected in the rehearsals and performances of this stunning art form. As well as being both emotionally and thematically evocative, with years of pent up longing and repressed self-identity expressed in the tilt of a hand or a sideways glance, the fact that Georgian dance is hyper-masculine and staunchly nationalistic - while featuring both same-sex and opposite-sex duets - allows for sexual tension to heat up the rehearsal studio. As the characters come to terms with their sexual desires and identities in some remarkably interesting ways, Akin privileges Merab and Irakli’s spirit and resilience, and the joy of the dance.