Film Review: Experimental Dance Documentary ‘If It Were Love’ ★★★

If It Were Love documents the lives of fifteen young dancers as they tour Crowd, Gisèle Vienne’s dance piece on the 90’s rave scene. Director Patric Chiha captures their intimate relationships as well as numerous vivid performance scenes throughout this eighty minute feature.

Interestingly blending on-stage performance with quiet off-stage scenes exploring the relationships between the dancers, Patric Chiha captures an intriguing mix of realities. We invest further in the movements and performances of the actors on-stage as we learn about them intimately off-stage, with the strange esoteric jerks, motions and and rave scenes in Crowd striking with a strange beauty heightened by these off-stage musings.

If It Were Love takes us to the heart of the performances, with the camera close and observant as the performers showcase the finesse and surreal nature of their movements. We as viewers feel like we are on stage, in the heart of these raves, immersed in performance all around us.

Quiet musings off stage centred on the notions of gender, lust and queerness add a sense of further depth to the movements and behaviours that we witness on-stage. Chiha captures these with a quiet, intimate eye, lingering and listening as the dancers dissect their thoughts and feelings on notions mirrored in the theatrical performance.

If It Were Love is an undeniably challenging watch and one that will benefit from an audience of experimental theatre lovers. Whilst this will not fill the void created from 2020’s lack of live theatrical performances, it will capture the buzz and excitement of experimental theatre in an alternative, exciting manner thrusting us into the centre of the production. Intimate musings backstage add further depth to the performance on stage, giving greater depth into the meaning and motivation behind Gisèle Vienne’s work.