Documentary review: A Dancer’s comically pretentious autobiography — “Grace Fury”

No sense uh, tiptoeing around it. “Grace Fury,” an autobiographical dance documentary by dancer-choreographer Laura Carruthers, is the worst dance doc I’ve ever seen.

Not that the dancers aren’t terrific and the choreography — a hybrid of ballet, modern and Scottish dance — at least a little interesting.

It’s a life story cryptically, quasi-“poetically” related in dance and endless, eye-rollingly pretentious voice-over narration.

“I have outgrown my simple faith,” Carruthers intones, “given up fantasy for truth.”

In between dances, which are sampled not-quite-randomly with no set-up, she hints at conflicts in companies, competing agendas, being dismissed and fleeing Arizona for Scotland.

“‘I mean, look at her. That’s what she’s here for!'”

This is illustrated by her walking an Arizona desert highway, narrating about how “hot” it is (she’s wearing a leather jacket) only to be picked up by a 1975 MGB Midget. The ’70s vibe spreads to the score, twinkly primitive synthesizer Muzak with digital whistles and bagpipes.

“Here we go again,” she introduces in a dance number featuring sword and scabbard, venturing “somewhere between fire and grace.”

Somewhere between modern dance and “Riverdance,” between pliés and highland flings, Carruthers finds her dancing “voice.” If only she’d kept that pretentious narrator’s voice to herself.

Too harsh? Consider this — “With each ending, you slip under in a way, pulling me further and further out to sea…now adrift, alone with thoughts that sway between giving up and treading more uncertainty, more of these amplified ups and downs. And I think I’m a little seasick.”

Perhaps you can’t be a dancer to hear how howlingly agrammatical, self-absorbed and “slept through English class” that sounds. Apparently nobody in her circle told her.

Those same people neglected to suggest maybe knowing nothing about how to film dance and a direct a movie about dance should give one pause. Gene Kelly, Kenny Ortega, Twyla and Fosse were rare birds.

The dance here has a local PBS affiliate taping a visiting dance company feel — pedestrian, static.

And “we’ll meet again to share this thirst” sounds like a threat.

MPA Rating: unrated

Cast: Laura Carruthers, Seth Belliston, Matthew Powell, John J. Todd, Deanna Doyle

Credits: Scripted and directed by Laura Carruthers. A Carruthers & Co release.

Running time: 1:16

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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