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Trolley Dances

Distributed by Filmbaby, 1-877-FILMBABY
Produced by Mark Freeman
Directed by Mark Freeman
DVD, color, 26 min.
Elementary - Adult
Urban Studies

Reviewed by Rebecca Adler Schiff, College of Staten Island, City University of New York

Date Entered: 1/15/2009

Jean Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater’s Trolley Dances owes the concept, one guesses, to the existence in the city of an old-time trolley line, perhaps not as fantastical as San Francisco’s but picturesque enough. The conceit of the company is that the trolley will carry an audience to a place along the trolley line where dancers await to perform a site-specific work whose choreographer even earlier explored the site. The various venues turn out to be a trolley stop near San Diego State College, a historic house in San Diego’s old African American neighborhood, the city’s railway station, etc. Passersby add to the pre-chosen audience and express wonder at what they’ve unexpectedly come across. Indeed the film spends perhaps more time than necessary focusing on the faces of members of the audience seemingly entranced by the performances. The dances do add art of a sort to the urban scene though are not otherwise distinguished. The touted site-specific character of the choreography is no more than what might be expected. The film is excellently shot. A sequence in which audience members are asked to explain an abstract work provides, as might be expected, diverse interpretations.