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Weekly Review No. 346 - Rhythm and Movement Short Film (Full Length) – 1948 Documentary Dance

Weekly Review No. 346 - Rhythm and Movement

Short Film (Full Length) – 1948 Documentary Dance

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Apologies - I was wrong to attribute a German accent to the trainer.

Neil Hornick

Neil Hornick 22 Aug 2011 - 08.54pm

The women in this film include members of a YMCA morning class taught by Gisa Taglicht and members of a private class she also taught for the wives of diplomat. These were classes for women. The film clip is composed of footage from several different locations, including the Wellington Botanical Gardens.

Raewyn Whyte

Raewyn Whyte 9 Feb 2011 - 11.21am

Recent reacquaintance with Michael Forlong’s Three on a Journey led me to this earlier, shorter film, in which the benefits of ‘rhythmical gymnastics’ – a forerunner of aerobics, it would seem – are illustrated by a troupe of lissom, lightly clad young women from the YWCA. The photography is still sharp after all these years. The exercises are rather pleasingly choreographed in wave-like undulations. And God knows, I enjoy the sight of slim, bra-less nymphs displaying their legs (as well as one rather startling naked back) as much as the next red-blooded hetero bloke.

Somehow, though, reservations creep in. For instance, where are the chaps? Was it feared that similar shots of male youths might arouse the wrong sort of feelings? I’m also a touch uneasy at resemblances to the sort of low-angle ‘Strength through Joy’ viewpoint favoured by Nazi sympathizer Leni Riefenstahl in her celebration of Aryan athleticism in Olympia (1938) – especially as the girls’ gong-striking trainer, who ‘trained in Vienna’, has a pronounced German accent.

And speaking of accents, how come the male and female commentators speak in plummy BBC tones? After all, this is New Zealand, isn’t it? Was this intended to endow the film with a veneer of class? Or perhaps it reflected the fact that the 1948 Olympic Games – the first to be staged after the war – were hosted by England. At any rate, these mere 7 minutes of film are richly suggestive in more ways than one.

Neil Hornick (London)
February 2011

Neil Hornick

Neil Hornick 8 Feb 2011 - 10.16pm

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