“Dancing is the drug that really gets you high,” say various subjects in this stimulating Australian film, completed last year, that occupies territory somewhere between documentary and infomercial, and preaches the gospel of dance not as self-expression, but as the obliteration of self. The cinematography is brilliant, careening the globe to drop in on Gabrielle Roth teaching her workshop in New York, Sufi dancers in Turkey, Namibians in the Kalahari Desert, Brazilians practicing candomblé, Koreans in full ritual garb, and an all-night techno party in an Australian forest. The filmmakers track the universally hunted “ecstatic experience”—as one raver observes, “you can only be free when you lose your identity.” Priests, dance therapists, and Jungian Jean Houston hold forth, but the best part is when the percussion score stays steady while the visuals jump from culture to culture.
This first New York screening includes a “global celebration” featuring electronica and Nigerian trance drumming. A 240-minute DVD, which includes much material beyond the film itself, can be ordered at dancesofecstasy.com.