Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Rhythm Is It! is a stirring film about empowerment through dance and music, and it’s especially stirring because it’s realistic about the obstacles: the insidious way class loyalty and peer pressure can stymie aspiration in a kid. Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Sir Simon Rattle collaborates with choreographer Royston Maldoom in an inspired educational programme: a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with some 250 Berlin schoolchildren of disparate ages, races and backgrounds, with little experience of modern dance. While the better-heeled students grasp the opportunity to broaden their experience, rehearsal in a poorer school can be brought to a standstill by the chatter of a preening young beauty, too cool to learn a thing. Maldoom, a working-class hero himself, has an eagle eye for such self-limiting behaviour and a passionate belief in the power of the unlocked body to unlock the spirit. His conviction and perseverance triumph in the evolution of several young dancers – and in an exuberant, awesomely spectacular performance of the Rite.