A man and woman come together at a set of abandoned New York train tracks. No words are spoken, but the sexual attraction is clearly there. As they begin to move in unison, the mixture of both passion and urgency is in the air. Is this the last time they will ever see each other? Is their isolated choice of location symbolic of their relationship as a whole? It is blissful and complex scenes like this that make NY Export: Opus Jazz such a treat. The film takes pleasure in creating a picture of the New York landscape in which the audience is left to imagine the stories behind each character.
Based on Jerome Robbins’ 1958 ballet of the same name, which premiered a year after his West Side Story became a Broadway hit, NY Export: Opus Jazz provides a scripted take on Robbins’ “ballet in sneakers.” At a brisk forty-six minutes, directors Henry Joost and Jody Lee Lipes create a film that crackles with energy and sensuality. Shot in actual locations around New York, Joost and Lipes rely on both Robert Prince’s exuberant and sexy jazz score and the exceptional choreography to push the narrative forward. We only get a loose introduction to the characters as we observe them riding the train, hanging out by the shore, doing laundry, etc. The only time we get any sort of audible sound from them is in brief moments like the diner scene when they playfully yell out “Jenga” after someone drops a dish off screen.
What makes NY Export: Opus Jazz such a fascinating film is how quickly you get wrapped up in the characters despite knowing so little about them. The young attractive cast of dancers do an exceptional job of conveying the story and their emotion through every gesture. Whether they are striking a pose or engaging in one of the intricate dance sequences, you cannot help but be captivated by the moments of flirtation and lust that flow throughout the film. The vibrant energy that each new dance sequence brings is infectious. As a result, NY Export: Opus Jazz is the type of film that not only delights, but leaves you wanting more.
NY Export: Opus Jazz (and the making of documentary) will be screening one night only at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Thursday October 10, 2013 at 9 PM. The film is being present by Shorts That Are Not Pant and tickets can be purchased at the door.