By Ashley Maniw (August 14th, 2018)
Directed by: Konrad Kultys
Produced by: Konrad Kultys, Dorota Stolarska
Key Cast: Helena Ganjalyan
Dancing has always been popular. From ballet to disco to break dancing to current reality shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars, dancing (like film) is a really accessible art form. Going to the movies has become a ritual in our modern society, but dancing has been a ritual for centuries.
Perhaps because it’s so accessible, it’s sometimes hard to see how much of an art form dance really is and how much work dancers put in to create a story with only their bodies and music. Dancing is a beautiful thing to watch, but we don’t always think about the dancer and the mind behind the movement. That’s why the short documentary film Tensity is such a revelation.
The film focuses on Helena Ganjalyan, an actress, dancer and choreographer. Helena discusses how she dances – how she moves, how she creates momentum, how she develops story and character – while the camera focuses on different parts of her body as she speaks or dances. The extreme close-ups of her eyes, her arms, her hands and her body in motion are juxtaposed with shots of nature. It’s a beautifully shot film and this contrast really helps the viewer get into the heart and mind of a dancer.
Since the film focuses specifically on contemporary dance, which is free of familiarity and restrictions – it doesn’t require hitting a specific position like classical ballet, for example. Not to say that it doesn’t have form, but contemporary dance breaks the rules of convention to be different and jarring and moving; to help create new spaces and characters and stories. With Helena narrating her process, it’s easier to see how contemporary dance is still about story and form – it’s not just dancers wildly moving around the stage.
It’s easy to get lost in the big picture when you watch a performance on stage, but it’s another to listen to a dancer describe the work, soul and thought that go into her every expression. Dancers make it look so easy and effortless, but in reality there’s a huge amount of consideration, concentration and pain brought to each movement. Throughout the film, Helena discusses the toll dancing takes on her body and how hard it can be, highlighting that there’s sometimes a price to pay for art.
The film also shines a light on the amazing capability our bodies have to change and flow as we try and express ourselves through dance. Helena talks about moving her body like an architect and the language between music and the body and mind. It’s amazing to be able to get into the head of an artist and learn more about how they craft their artistic expressions.
Seeing as dancing is such a personal expression of art, it’s nice to have this time with an actual dancer - to understand how and why they dance gives the art form new life because it suddenly takes on different meaning. When discussing dancing, Helena states that she loves the connection if gives her between her partners and between her and the audience. And that’s what the best type of art does – it connects us together.
Whether you’re a dancing aficionado or aren’t familiar with the art form, Tensity allows you to get into the head of a dancer to better understand, and maybe even love, this art form. It’s a very earthy film that connects the body to art in a way that’s accessible and moving – like all great art should be capable of doing.
- Ashley Maniw