Culture / Film

Review: Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter @ Glasgow Film Theatre

When I was young, dance was a huge part of my life. Homework was often left neglected as choreographing routines to the latest B*Witched track and acting out scenes from my favourite musicals were at the top of my priority list. Dancing, to me, was an escape from reality and had been an integral part of my life since the age of three. I never gave its status as an art a second thought until I watched Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter.

Part of Art Screen, a film festival run by the BBC, Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter told the extraordinary biography of dance pioneer Martha Hill and her adamance to see dance considered a legitimate art form in America.

Through blending a collection of archival interviews from Hill and present day conversations with her students and those involved with her work, Greg Vander Veer’s documentary depicts a touching image of the dance mogul’s strength and determination.

 

Having grown up in a Christian family, Hill danced in a time period where people did not look upon the subject with joy. After graduating from Battle Creek University in Michigan, she became an instructor of ballet and gymnastics for six years before moving to New York City in 1926.

Seeing modern dance as an expression of the body and mind, she dedicated her life to making the art matter in America, setting up various dance schools, the most notable of which was the dance department she distinguished at The Julliard School after being hired as a dance instructor by the establishment’s president William Schuman in 1951.

Although the difficult journey Hill undertook is largely unknown, this film is a worthwhile watch to those who don’t even express an interest in dance. It takes something that many of today’s generation see as routine culture, highlighting that it wasn’t always viewed as the norm, and like many things in life, it matters.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @rorared

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