With a lit­tle hype from my friends

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Michael Wade Simp­son For The New Mex­i­can

Danc­ing Across Bor­ders, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, in English and Kh­mer with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 2.5 chiles

IThe “Texas takeover.” That’s how one prom­i­nent pa­tron of the arts re­ferred pub­licly to Anne Bass’ machi­na­tions as a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors of the School of Amer­i­can Bal­let in New York at the time of co-founder Ge­orge Balan­chine’s death in 1983. Bass, the ex-wife of Texas oil­man and bil­lion­aire Sid Bass, once di­vided her time be­tween Fort Worth and Man­hat­tan and has been a high-pro­file so­cialite and phi­lan­thropist for the New York City Bal­let and many other or­ga­ni­za­tions for years.

Danc­ing Across Bor­ders, a doc­u­men­tary di­rected by Bass, is about an amaz­ing Cam­bo­dian dancer she dis­cov­ered on a trip to Asia and de­cided to turn into a bal­let star. Al­though the film of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing be­hind-the-scenes look at the study of bal­let, Bass comes across as a cul­tural im­pe­ri­al­ist, and the film as an ex­am­ple of a wealthy woman’s van­ity taken to the high­est ex­treme.

A doc­u­men­tary by any other filmmaker might have shown the ac­tual story of young Sok­van­nara Sar, whom Bass found danc­ing at a tem­ple on a trip she took to Angkor Wat. Sar, from ex­tremely hum­ble roots, was, of course, in­clined to ac­cept the wealthy Amer­i­can’s of­fer of spon­sor­ship to study bal­let in Amer­ica be­fore he spoke a word of English or even knew what bal­let was. It was an op­por­tu­nity to help sup­port his fam­ily, to have a ca­reer, to live in the United States. A young man’s dream come true. Or was it?

The fact that Bass’ money bought pri­vate lessons with one of the most renowned dance teach­ers, a place at the pres­ti­gious School of Amer­i­can Bal­let (while she served on its board), and a high-school de­gree is not re­ally that sur­pris­ing. What seems

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