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Dance at BFI London Film Festival

Posted on October 4, 2016


There’s a strong dance strand in this year’s BFI London Film Festival, running from October 5 to 16.

The festival’s programme includes the documentary Dancer, which traces the career of Sergei Polunin with interviews, new and archive footage. Also in the documentary strand, Fonko explores urban African music, with some fabulous dancing.

The features strand includes two modern musicals. Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (pictured, top) is a love letter to Los Angeles and to Hollywood musicals, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq reimagines Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata – in which the women of Athens go on a sex strike to prevent war – as hip hop musical set in Chicago’s South Side, with a cast including Teyonah Parris and Samuel L Jackson.

Then there are two vintage musicals. The 1942 movie You Were Never Lovelier pairs Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth, with Jerome Kern numbers including “I’m Old Fashioned” and appearances from Xavier Cugat and his orchestra. There’s also a rare chance to see King of Jazz, filmed in Technicolor in 1930, with spectacular productions and a cast that includes Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra and a young Bing Crosby. Tickets are available from

King of Jazz. Photograph courtesy of BFI London Film Festival

King of Jazz. Photograph courtesy of BFI London Film Festival

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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