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Review: KEMP - My Best Life Is Yet To Come

Review: KEMP - My Best Life Is Yet To Come

This documentary film, created and directed by Edoardo Gabbriellini, Italy, 2019, 64m, was presented on Dance Films Association and Film at Lincoln Center and premiered on Sunday, July 19, 2020. It is a well-made biopic about a choreographer/actor/dancer/mime/burlesque performer, Lindsay Kemp. At the age of 80, Kemp reflects on his life and career and states his views along with his recollections. We are treated to interviews and film clips from his career.

The film opens with ocean waves crashing on rocks. The scene changes to Kemp sitting on a couch, smoking and talking with the interviewer. He is animatedly describing a scene, as if in a trance. His facial expressions are sometimes violent and grotesque, sometimes calm. "I was born dancing - twitching." He is asked if he sets out to shock. He says, "No, I want to please, but that which gives me pleasure can be shocking to others." He speaks of having auditioned for the Royal Ballet in London as a child. Certain he had done a good audition, he was surprised when they told him that he had neither the temperament nor the physicality required to be a ballet dancer. With what should inspire many, he said he could not be deterred, feeling that he was meant to be a performer. I agree with this. If one is turned down although one feels the direction for one's life, work towards it. Find professionals to teach and to guide you.

Kemp said that he found his voice through hallucinogenics (LSD, etc.). He told us that the feeling he could walk on water effect lasted beyond the herbs. "My stories are always love stories." He said. "We live in a loveless world." He was bullied in boarding school, so he put the bullies under his spell, which is often how he treated his audience. Directors, he experienced, were impatient, most of all Ken Russell. Critics were not always kind to him. He shared that he no longer took critics seriously. "Life is full of disappointments", he said, displaying his acquired wisdom.

In his company there was much to risk. He found that women don't want to risk their dignity. He loved Burlesque and directed shows in strip clubs. He spoke of his alliance with David Bowie and what they learned from each other. Kemp admired and stole from Marcel Marceau. He told of the time he saw Marceau in the audience and quickly had to change his routine. When Marceau visited him backstage, he was worried. Instead, Marceau loved him, invited him to join his company if he would first study with him. He did!

As a teacher, he instructed students to be truthful, to reach out to the audience, to communicate.

When asked if he was preparing to retire, he replied, "Dancers don't retire, they dance!" "I got to live a spectacular life. I know I did."

Music in the film: original music of Stephano Pilia;

Chopin's Valse Brilliante Op.34 No. 2 in A minor

Played by Januse Olejneniezak

Dubst Epic Symphony - Robotboys

I highly recommend this film for numerous reasons.

Photo credit: Francesco Merini

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