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On point

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On point

Speaking of toes, however, and being on them, I never really went on point when I studied dance as I started far too late for my feet to tolerate such pressure. But I always admired those who could. Especially men. I choreographed several pieces for men on point, and, many years later, in THE TANGO LESSON, featured Matthew Hawkins walking on point in the colour sections of the imaginary film within the film called ‘Rage’. We also shot a sequence in the studios in Buenos Aires that sadly never appeared in the finished film (one of those endings that ended on the cutting room floor, as so many of my films), where he danced on point in a fake snowstorm. (Someone remind me to look at that sequence again …there was also a duet for Pablo and David, the superb dancer who happens not to have legs…perhaps it can morph into something else, someday).

Another piece that featured point-work was one of the early Limited Dance Company productions, made for the ‘Oval House Theatre’ in London in the seventies. It was called ‘Aida’. Jacky Lansley and I sang a duet from the opera, accompanied by a solo cello. We were wearing outsize men’s’ tartan dressing-gowns at the time. At some point in the performance we removed them, to reveal almost identical dressing-gowns underneath. We loved such minimalist jokes. Meanwhile, a nude woman sat on a plinth, quietly reading (Das Kapital, by Karl Marx, if I recall correctly), whilst one dancer in a jockstrap and headscarf repeatedly practiced pirouettes and another circled the stage – and the rooftop above, captured on video and relayed by closed circuit television – also wearing nothing but a jockstrap and a headscarf and…yes, he was walking on point. Black satin point shoes. He looked a mile tall.

I have never laughed so much as when Rose English and I, some years later, went to see the 'Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo' performing excerpts from the classics. For those of you unfamiliar with this company, it was entirely male, with dancers of varying degrees of technical prowess dancing full out in tutus and point-shoes. At a certain point (no pun intended) the laughter became tears, for it was deeply moving to see such effort and such strange grace.

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Matthew Hawkins in THE TANGO LESSON

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On Point

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Deleted dance scene from THE TANGO LESSON

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Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated