Dance as Gentle Disturbance with Tanin Torabi

Name: Tanin Torabi

Title: The Dérive

Year: 2017

Film Programme: International Student Competition

A dancer moves among the people in an old bazaar in Tehran. A camera is capturing the responses and reactions.

طنین ترابی (Tanin Torabi)  is a contemporary dance artist and curator based in Iran and Ireland. Her work operates in the realm of performance, choreography and film and she enjoys exploring the connection between the three. Torabi holds an MA in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick with first class honours and a BA in Sociology (Hons). Tanin’s work has been described by several film festival directors as rebellious, creative, inspiring, unbearably elegant and affecting. She has an exceptional ambition that is layered with complex personal and cultural nuance.

We met her at Cinedans FEST to gain some insights into her creative process.

What was the starting point for this film?

I have always been very keen on discovering social relations and exploring how far I could dive into people’s everyday life. So I decided to bring the heart of the everyday to my film. This was the starting point and afterward, the rest of the ideas popped up. What would it be like to move differently in public spaces? How would you affect your surroundings? How would other people look at you or perceive you? Does this bodily expression change the bodies around you? Does it even matter to them? How is a differently moving body affected by the routine society herself? What are the many different layers of personal and social issues to discover and witness? These are some of the questions that we touched in the process of making this work.  

What was the challenge when shooting The Dérive?

Well, the circumstances were very special. I was trying to make a dance film in a country in which dancing in public spaces is prohibited. Also, for this film, we could not practice or take many shots, since we did not want to attract the attention of local people and shopkeepers. We wanted the reactions to be natural and spontaneous. We couldn’t have achieved it if we had rehearsed in the space. Instead, we extended our scouting period. We went to the location every week for about 2 months. We mapped the bazaar, walked the way, chose the pathway we wanted to go through and discussed the possibilities for hours to see what we want to do and explore. It was a risk anyway on the shooting day. We had a structure of what we wanted to do, but it was supposed to be a full on experiment of what happens to us. This was both frustrating and exciting at the same time. 

What is the central theme of your film and how did you develop it?

The Dérive explores a different texture of body movement among ordinary people of everyday life in Tehran, where not only dancing is prohibited, but where it is also not very likely for people to allow their bodies to move beyond what is expected. It’s even hard for people to tolerate. The Dérive takes the audience on a journey to see how a moving body could affect a surrounding layered with complex personal and cultural nuances.

The film was shot in a single take, so the editing has actually been done on the spot by the cinematographer Milad Sanaei who has done a great job framing the best possible happenings and events. It requires so much presence at the moment to be able to decide what to frame and what not to. I’m so happy about this collaboration and believe that his camera movement is a dance in itself. He was so present in his body and capable of moving through the crowd so he didn’t into crash anyone or didn’t miss any important moments. But of course, the direction of the work was also important. In the end, it became very clear what each of us had to do which was satisfying for both of us. I must say the music by Faran Fahimi is absolutely a great match. I just shared the final video with him, he was so happy with our result and created the music. His first draft was so good that I did not even sent further feedback. 

Where do you see the dance film field moving towards? What are your aspirations and wishes for its development?

I myself obviously love the dance film field very much. I think more artists are getting their hands on it. People are understanding its impact, as well as accessibility. I started to make dance films, because I could not easily travel abroad and use dance as a medium to express and share my world. I think this is a very important point to notice. I just hope that this form could find more audiences for itself and also find more funding opportunities. There must be support for artists from countries that have less access to art making resources in order to be able to create and share their visions of the world. 

Don’t miss her latest film and all the other incredible films in our programme International Student Award on 9 March at 21:00. See you at Eye.

Get tickets here

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