Hot Docs review: Gallant Indies

Philippe Béziat's documentary about a Paris Opera production integrating urban dance into baroque opera soars


GALLANT INDIES (Philippe Béziat, France). 108 minutes. Rating: NNNN


Talk about storming the Bastille. In the fall of 2019, artist and film director Clément Cogitore and choreographer Bintou Dembélé mounted a revolutionary production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s baroque opera Les Indes Galantes that included 30 diverse dancers specializing in krump, voguing, flexing, popping – and many other moves never before seen on the stage of the Opéra Bastille.

Director Béziat follows a year of rehearsals leading up to opening night, with his fly-on-the-wall cameras capturing some impressive dance, singing and production elements. Rather than interview Cogitore and Dembélé about their intentions, he shows us specific sequences that obliquely comment on the opera’s themes of colonialism and otherness.

While the film lacks momentum, the dancers, whether posting their thoughts on social media, one-upping each other onstage or stanning the singers and conductor, are always watchable. And when opening night arrives, the contrast between their diversity and the whiteness of the (enthusiastic) crowd speaks volumes.

Now available to stream here

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