This film is fucking gorgeous. Beyond My Steps in a documentary following the Contemporary Dance Company of Angola as the dancers rehearse for the performance of the piece (De)construction. Choreographed by Monica Anapaz, the piece deals with construction and deconstruction of central cultural themes of identity, place, tradition and change.
The cinematography of this film is just spectacular. It is sumptuous to watch, bringing alive with sharp clarity this vibrant, bright and colourful place, people and performance. The score is also excellent, all tying together with film’s focus on communication through art.
The dancers reflect on what they are bringing to the performance, and what the piece means to them. They are predominantly from the provinces, and are now working and living in the capital, so urban alienation is a factor, with the divide of the rural and urban mirroring the tense negotiation between tradition and increasing globalisation. The different way of life can often be jarring, with increased access to technology, tv and social media often existing side by side with less community cohesion and interconnectedness.
And nationally, there is a struggle for cohesion, especially with the legacy of the decades-long civil war. CDCA is the first professional dance company in Angola, and they want their work to speak to the diversity of the country, but also bring that together, as one performance by complementary performers.
For the dancers, how this piece finds a way to incorporate traditional Angolan dance forms syncretic with contemporary modern, and its deconstructive process, speaks to a continual lived experience in which we carry who we are forward in our lives, collectively. While trying capture the choreographer’s unique vision, they nonetheless create a universal message.