Expertise? Expression!

When I was casting Tango Octogenario, I had to make a very big decision. The script called for 80-year-old tango dancers. The  decision I had to make was do I cast actual octogenarians or do I go for younger dancers and try to age them with make up.

Elderly dancer’s would be more authentic. Younger dancers might be more nimble, might be crisper dancers.

When I met Alex and Jean Turney, my dilemma disappeared, because they were the age of the characters and they were excellent dancers. But Alex had occasional doubts. I remember when I told him that I would be shooting a close up of their hands as they clasped just before they danced.

Jean and Alex Turney in Tango Octogenario
Jean and Alex Turney in Tango Octogenario

Alex was concerned. He was very conscious of the look of his arthritic fingers. “You want to show these hands?” he objected.

“They’re beautiful hands,” I told him. “Those are hands that have lived a full life.”

I think that won him over.

At some point Alex asked why I didn’t go with younger dancers, or professional dancers. I told him I wasn’t really interested in expert dancers, that I wanted expressive dancers. And that’s what I saw in them. They oozed expression.

It’s the same with the music I listen to. Give me a lo-fi, raggedly recorded soulful song over a highly produced, technically flawless soulless song any day. Of course, in an ideal world, you get both expertise and expression, but if I have to choose one, I’ll always choose the latter.

And so it is with A Life’s Work.  As I edit, I continue to look first and foremost for the expressive moment, the expressive composition, the expressive cut, the expressive sequence. If those are expertly delivered.

This is related to that post on perfection, but my desire to achieve perfection doesn’t preclude expressiveness. I’m just looking for both, because  that’s what perfect is.

Questions, thoughts, or  comments about this post, or anything under the sun? Leave ’em in the comments box!

2 Replies to “Expertise? Expression!”

  1. i was lucky enough to spend an afternoon shooting with jonas mekas last week — which lead me to watch a few of his films — which lead me to reach the same conclusion about my own work. watch his “walden” on you tube and you’ll get what i mean.

    1. When Andy B. makes a film recommendation, I pay attention. Looking forward to watching it. Thanks.

      And as always, thanks for reading and comment. See you soon, yes?

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