Pole dancing is no longer seen as a smutty activity undertaken by ladies of the night scantily clad in semi-pornographic outfits. Pole dancing is tough and full on and requires immeasurable skill – and that’s what Anna Campbell’s rousing film shows in a most powerful way. We watch women’s bodies contort themselves into impossible positions, lifting their bodyweight with ease. The close up shots of red skin and blistered feet partnered with the loud and visceral sounds of bones cracking and poles squeaking make for an incredible multi-sensory viewing experience. As audience to this we are immersed in the dancer’s strength and pain.
First time filmmaker Campbell draws the similarities of pole-dancing to another equally gruelling form of dance: ballet. Ballet is known for pushing your body to its limits, as well as having a reputation for being harsh on its performers to behave and look a certain way.
Campbell cites Isadora Duncan’s speech ‘Dancer of the Future’ as the tongue-in-cheek inspiration for the piece and focusses the audience’s attentions on the comparison between ballet and pole; the restrictive pointe shoes which deform women’s feet, much like stripper heels, as well as the judgement and scrutiny of women’s bodies. But ultimately, Campbell tells me, pole-dancing is about celebrating women’s strength: “Pole dancing is about what the body can do instead of how it looks.” There could not be a more accurate description for this beautiful snapshot of true modern dance.
DANCER OF THE FUTURE will be in the first episode of Random Acts which begins Monday 21st August midnight on C4
Random Acts strand commissions and curates some 200 creative short films a year. The third series of the Random Acts TV show is part of a £6m, 3-year partnership between Channel 4 and Arts Council England, dedicated to finding and backing new filmmaking talent across the country and showcasing the best in creative short film. The new series features an international mix of new and established artists and filmmakers, with approx 50% female filmmakers.
To watch weekly Random Acts selections or explore the entire archive, head to the Random Acts website.