Dancing Across Borders (2010)
On a trip to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in January 2000, filmmaker Anne Bass came across a sixteen-year-old boy who moved her immensely with his amazing natural charm and grace as a dancer. A longtime devotee of the world of dance, Bass felt compelled to give this young boy the opportunity to leave his home and follow a dream that he could not yet have fully imagined. From the serene countryside of Southeast Asia to the halls of New York's School of American Ballet to the stage of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle "Dancing Across Borders" chronicles the intimate and triumphant story of a boy who was discovered, and who only much later discovered all that he had in himself. … More
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Critic Reviews for Dancing Across Borders
This is a film that ought to be watched by all youngsters hoping for a career in dance.
Have you ever listened to someone delightedly telling you a story and not realizing how badly he comes off in his own tale? That's the queasy sensation I got from the documentary Dancing Across Borders.
The rehearsal footage of Sy is repetitive, but the peculiar dynamic between sponsor and protégé is fascinating.
Dance fanatics will appreciate the story, as will fans of cross-culturalism in the arts. Let's leave all mention of exploitation of the exotic for another time and place.
You may want to strangle Bass with her couture capris, but Borders eventually becomes the inspirational film you suspect it meant to be all along.
Do-gooder vanity projects don't come more self-aggrandizing than this.
There are times when the subject of a documentary transcends merely adequate filmmaking, and that is very much the case with Dancing Across Borders...
The film is a wonderful mix of ballet rehearsals and performances, the saga of a young artist's struggle and success, and a personal story of dealing with cross-cultural conflict and resolution.
Sometimes with documentaries, the best intentions have a way of making decent people look bad. Dancing Across Borders is a dismaying case in point.
Twyla Tharp calls him "remarkable," and watching him do Harlequin in Balanchine's La Sonnambula, you can see why: he might not be a born ballet dancer, but he's a born performer.
It's a rare film that gives viewers the opportunity to watch an artist-in-training pretty much from square one, and "Dancing Across Borders" does just that.
In carefully edited clips from his Cambodian years (brief mention is made of Pol Pot's devastating influence), as well as later performances in the United States, Bass demonstrates his stunning leaps and graceful partnering.
Informative and flavorful, though lacking in surprise, since Sar's evident sweetness and talent seem to be guiding him to acclaim from the beginning.
Lacks probing interviews to highlight the tremendous cultural change, but Sy remains an engaging focus point and there are numerous performance sequences that ably demonstrate his growing accomplishments.
Offered only hints of life away from the barre or of Sy's relationship with his coolly poised benefactress, viewers will see either a very fortunate young man or a beautiful protégé, dancing as fast as he can to please everyone but himself.
As subjects for documentaries go, a dancer who hasn't really done a whole lot with his life so far isn't, on paper, the most arresting story you can tell
The film spends an inordinate amount of time with people talking about what a good dancer Sy is, as opposed to showing him actually dancing.
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