Making home immortal: dance and longing in Brendan Canty’s “Atali’i O Le Crezent”
Throughout the opening montage, Lemanu’s hand gestures at times reflect movements akin to some of the traditional Samoan dances that he grew up with. Other times, his dancing is more abstract; pure improvisational movement meant to convey an intense rush of emotions: grief, joy, loneliness. “With me, I grew up doing Samoan dancing, it’s just part of the culture,” he explained to me. “As I was going through high school, I got more into street dance because that’s what was popular, it’s what my friends were doing.” Both styles are blended in the interpretive dancing we see in the film, a calling card for the memories he made from boyhood among cracked sidewalks and plastic swing sets.
While interpretive dance might not be something the casual NFT collector is familiar with, Canty is mindful to propel the story with visual cues. Wide shots of power lines, empty streets with chain link fences, and open skylines above crowded freeways tell the story of lower income suburbia, and signal a disconnect. Though the play was an ensemble piece featuring Lemanu and four other young men, he performs a one-man show in the short film, reminiscing about his childhood friends in their absence, inhabiting a world that feels at once familiar and otherworldly, even apocalyptic.
The tone of the film is owed partly to the panic from which it was originally conceived. Early in the pandemic, Lemanu took a call from his sister: Their parents and the rest of the homeowners in their neighborhood had received letters from the local housing department warning that the neighborhood would be cleared sometime in the future in order to expand a nearby freeway into the more affluent central Auckland.
Lemanu felt helpless as his parents and neighbors were forced to consider moving. “I just didn’t know what to do,” he said. “It was really heartbreaking. It’s always the same sort of communities that have to be forced out of towns through gentrification.”
Reposted from: superrare.com