Lord of the Dance: Irish Step Gets Its Perfunctory Doc in Jig


If the structure behind Jig seems familiar, it is. That’s because Sue Bourne’s film employs the same formula as nearly every entry in an increasingly prevalent documentary subgenre devoted to chronicling specialized competitions. Last represented on-screen via the slam-poetry doc Louder Than a Bomb, the contest film generally splits its time between a lengthy introduction that tracks the contestants as they prepare for an upcoming championship, introducing us to both the various players and the art form they practice, and the contest itself. Jig, which details the increasingly competitive world of Irish step-dancing, is no different. But even for “jigging” aficionados, most of the interest is likely to reside in the film’s first half, which mixes scenes of intensive practice with a discussion of the material costs of the expensive, but likely unremunerative, pastime. By contrast, Bourne’s lengthy chronicle of the World Championship is severely under-contextualized, leaving us in the dark about the competition’s structure and frustrating our efforts to take a rooting interest in the proceedings. Worse, she gives us only tiny snippets of the dancing itself, continually cutting away to reaction shots and ensuring that the art form the film is designed to showcase is never glimpsed as anything other than a collection of fragments.