It’s hard to say whether the ‘Last Chance Dance‘ short documentary is focused more on dance or on the idea of friendship and devotion. Perhaps this thematic uncertainty is due to the fact that dance and devotion are inseparable. Or, at least, this is the opinion of the directors Steven Yao and Molly Stanfield, who capture in their project the backstage of a dance school, addressing, in particular, the emotional chemistry created between students and teachers. This short film captures, through the dynamic choreographic passages and the testimonials of the young dancers, special moments from the process of creating a performance behind which a whole itinerary of self-discovery is hidden. Therefore, dance becomes not only a form of artistic expression of feelings that often transcend words, but also a way of returning to our own self, of exploring sometimes latent emotional mechanisms that only the pedagogical tact of a special teacher can help us access.
The spectator attends not only a brief presentation of a modern dance school / class, but also a praise of trust in the other, since, as the “characters” themselves suggest, dance is not just movement but a spiritual communion with the public. The greatest role of a teacher is not only to perfect the technique, to shape the outer shell of a dancer, but also to enhance the ability of the dancer to create empathic connections.
Although this idea takes a central place in the vision of directors Steven Yao and Molly Stanfield, the great minus of this short film is precisely the superficiality with which this aspect is illustrated, in particular because of the small size of the project itself which does not support a more concrete exploration of the participants’ personal stories within the artistic act stages. Still, this doesn’t mean that this short film is a failure, but, on the contrary, it possesses all the data to be extended to larger spaces, in order to accurately capture the parallels between the stage and the backstage, between the “human being” and the “dancing being” even more. However, despite its technical qualities that authentically surprise the artistic process, in the current form, many viewers may perceive this short documentary as a first draft of a more ambitious project that hasn’t sufficiently exploited its basic material yet. ‘Last Chance Dance’ is, from this perspective, the first step towards an invigorating and optimistic documentary depicting not only the beauty of a particular artistic language, but also the beauty of the devotion by which a teacher can totally change their students’ lives.