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Rhythm It Is! Get this DVD now!

October 21, 2007 at 11:17 PM

One of my little foibles (amongst the many) is to pick up a few DVDs every Saturday night after heavy orchestral rehearsals. This is an interesting exercise because at such a time I am usually too tired to figure out exactly what they are in Japanese which adds an exciting element of randomness. I recall with amusement picking up `Brokeback Mountain` on the assumption that it was a modern western, sitting down for the first ten minutes of sheep and scenery and being woken from my doze by a couple of guys having fun in a tent. That was surreal….(Beautiful movie by the way….)
This time I found a DVD somewhat ominously placed in the KUNG FU section which had a picture of Simon Rattle on the back. Curiosity piqued I put it on last night. Didn’t get off to a good start. German rap and shots of East German slums . Bleak and chilling. I was about to throw it away on the assumption that it was a boring European version of Shaft when the Berlin Phil appears on the screen. Changed my mind.
It’s an awesome documentary about how Rattle collaborated with a dance project designed to bring hope and life back for the poor and disenfranchised living in Germany. An extraordinary progression from listless, powerless, acnified drop outs to young people with vision and a common purpose: to dance `The Rite of Spring.` with the Berlin Phil under Rattle. The kids find themselves through the tough love approach of a couple of real hard core Brit dancers. One of the things they emphasized time and time again was the importance of silence. The kids had to stop using cynicism, verbal brutality and pointless laughter to cover up their sense of being nothing. Freed from this their bodies were given power through the teaching of simple but profound movements and this power then transferred to their souls , for want of a better expression. It was hard to watch but deeply moving.
Interspersed between these dance sessions were fascinating comments by Rattle about the role of music and society and shots of the Berlin Phil in rehearsal. They are just plain scary. Then one is constantly reminded of the background by shots of the slums , seeing ten year old kids literally with a lollipop in one hand and a cigarette in another.
I lost about half the content of this work because I can’t speak German and I was touched very deeply. Those of you who can follow it will get the full Monty.
It’s called `Rhythm it is` and it would be a very good idea for everyone to just stop practicing for a couple of hours and go and watch the damn thing.

From Bill Busen
Posted on October 22, 2007 at 5:55 AM
This is "Rhythm Is It" (vs "Rhythm It Is"). Thanks, Buri! Google the phrase for a YouTube preview and the film website. It's not on Amazon.
From Megan Chapelas
Posted on October 22, 2007 at 4:39 PM
I saw this when it came out in theatres here a couple of years ago. You're right - it really brings home so much. What sticks out to me is the scene where the choreographer is pushing the kids further than they've ever been pushed, telling them what they're giving (regarding discipline and attention) just isn't enough. One of the teachers tells him 'they're trying as hard as they can. You can't expect Hauptschule students to give you more than that - they just don't have it in them'. Cut to student: 'Of course we can give more, try harder, when we put our minds to it'. Take that, system.

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