This live action short film is entirely driven by a selection of classical instrumental music and a mixture of modern and ballet dance, choreographed and performed by senior members of Ballet BC. There is no dialogue, and the story is expressed through sound, dance and artfully composed visuals.
Each section of music tells a section of the story defined by a specific emotional tempo and story point. We build from sadness and longing to hopeful and romantic, to exciting and lustful, to dangerous and dark, finally returning to sadness and loss, bringing the story full circle.
Inspired by and shot during the Covid-19 pandemic, all safety guidelines from local, provincial and federal government were followed during the production. To ensure social distancing, the project has been conceived of with minimal equipment, outdoor locations and performers who do not require heavy make-up or interaction with non-household props. Filming utilized natural light at key times of day The cast and crew on set did not exceed five people total and included a designated safety liaison, who ensured distance was kept between cast and crew at all times. Face masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes were used to clean all equipment before and after use.
LonginG: A woman wakes alone as she has time after time, exploring an empty city, dancing alone, longing for someone to find her and give her a connection.
Love: A stranger, a man, appears as if he were a wish granted. After an initial surprise, the two last people in the city draw closer and begin to connect. But they cannot get too close, because whatever made everyone else disappear could harm them too. So they must dance together, apart, as they explore the empty city.
Need: Their passion is clear, and grows. The couple flirt with closeness, but never break the rules and stay apart. But the woman cannot let go of her dream of connection with touch, with intimacy. She flirts with breaking the rule, first a little, then more, and finally, she breaks down and attempts to embrace the man.
Chase: But the man cannot hold her, no matter how much he wants to. He withdraws, and warns the woman to stay away. But she will not. She rushes him, and he recoils, then runs. She dances after him in chase, following him closely. They leap and bound across the city again.
Risk: Finally, the woman corners the man, her prey, and he cannot run. His movements tell her to stay back, but his eyes tell her to approach. He longs for the closeness as well. Finally he gives in, and lets the woman approach and kiss him. It is a beautiful moment of desire realized.
Loss: But it will not last. The man recoils in pain and shutters and falls back, collapsing. His body turns to ash as he slowly dissolves. He smiles at her and whispers a goodbye. The woman, giving into her need for connection, has now lost the only one she had.
Ballet of a Lonely Heart is an abstract but familiar story of our desire for connection in a time where we cannot have it, without risking each other’s safety. It’s a cautionary tale, and a heartbreaking one too. Unlike other projects I’ve done, this is an opportunity to tell a story entirely through dance and physical expression, rather than with dialogue.
The story was conceived out of both a desire to shoot with a small five person crew in locations that would otherwise be difficult to secure, and a need to tell a story with characters who cannot interact. Ironically, we found two people who can interact, since both our performers are in a relationship and live together. Not only is this a poignant story designed for our crisis, it also showcases Vancouver in beautiful, natural light.