“Dances of Ecstasy is enthralling in its evocation of a mental and physical release that most of us long for” – The Age, Australia
“A mesmerizing and uplifting experience” – Carol Middleton, State of the Arts
“The calming and visually beautiful Dances of Ecstasy offers a mesmerizing journey” – Film Forward USA
“Rich imagery, gorgeous music … make for an unparalleled sensory experience.” – Citybeat Los Angeles
“The film provides a rare insider look into seldom seen rituals. It makes for a compelling ride that replicates the flow and force of the experiences it documents.” – LA Weekly
DANCES OF ECSTASY is a sensory journey into the mesmerizing world of trance and ecstasy that binds dancers from Manhattan to Morocco. Filmmakers Michelle Mahrer and Nicole Ma travelled to traditional and modern day rituals to discover what is the altered state experience which people seek through dance. DANCES OF ECSTASY is a visual and aural feast for the senses, an innovative documentary blending exciting dance rituals, evocative imagery, interviews and a spellbinding global music soundtrack. The film is an inspiration to dance, and to reconnect with a sense of the sacred that many have lost touch with in modern life.
Michelle Mahrer is one of Australia’s leading dance filmmakers. She specialises in films about dance and music, which include documentaries, and dance films choreographed specifically for the camera. Her filmmaking is characterised by an evocative visual language driven by rhythm and movement. She has a dance background and is a graduate from the Australian Film and TV School. Upon graduation she lived in New York for several years where she became a well known music video director represented by MGMM films working with international artists including Jo Cocker, Grace Jones, Michele Shocked, Stewart Copeland, Stanley Clarke, Shawn Colvin, and Peter Wolf. She returned to live in Australia in 1993 to develop her own dance film projects and since then has built an international career-directing award winning films about dance and music. These include television documentaries URBAN CLANÂ a portrait of the Page Brothers and the Bangarra dance theatre, Australia’s leading indigenous dance company which won best documentary at DANCE SCREEN, THE BLACK SWAN a portrait of choreographer Meryl Tankard which won best film at Dance on Camera New York, CHUNKY BITSÂ featuring CHUNKY MOVE DANCE COMPANY, and THE THREE BALLERINASÂ a portrait of leading Australian ballerinas Lucette Aldous, Marilyn Jones and Marilyn Rowe. Short dance films choreographed for the camera include DVOID a collaboration with GRAVITY FEED performance group, XIDU a short dance film about rhythm, and HORIZONÂ featuring the work of choreographer Eva Karczag.
Nicole Ma began her production career in New York working as a location manager on feature films including MALCOLM XÂ by Spike Lee, HAITIAN CORNER by Raoul Peck and LASERMAN by Peter Wang. In 1989 she founded Bluehorse Films in New York, an independent production company with German partner Ulla Zwicker. Bluehorse Films specialised in low-budget, independent films including the feature films MY FATHER IS COMING by Monica Treut, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and DAS WAR DER WILDE OSTENÂ commissioned by Bavaria Films/GmbH. One of Bluehorses’ features, ‘COMBINATION PLATTER,’ directed by Tony Chan, won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award at the Sundance Film Festival and screened in the Critic’s Week at Cannes 1993. Between 1994 and 1996 Ma produced three concert documentary films: NEWPORT JAZZÂ directed by Richard Buxenbaum, commissioned by JVC/Japan and PBS/NY; ANNIE LENOX LIVEÂ directed by Annie Lennox and Joe Dyer and AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL BOLTON directed by Ernie Fritz, commissioned by Sony International with production including a live concert, direct satellite broadcast to ten major US locations and a one hour concert film for the A&E cable channel. On her return to Australia Ma was Executive Producer of multi media for the new National Museum of Australia.- showcasing the most innovative use of media in a museum context in Australia.