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Trash Dance

Sun Dec 8, 9-10.15pm, PBS America

Trash Dance
By Debra Waters |
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If the punning title doesn’t draw you in, the first five minutes will, as it becomes apparent that this is no earnest attempt to drag non-dancers into an artist’s vanity project, but an affecting social documentary about the people who clean the streets of Austin, Texas.

Choreographer Allison Orr, a graceful blonde who brings organic donuts to the garbage workers (much to their amusement) and is girlishly squeamish about dead animal collection, is the polar opposite of the no-nonsense, street-smart folk she shadows. Yet her enthusiasm draws them in to be part of a show that includes a street-cleaner’s rap and crane ballet. Hidden talents emerge from the refuse team – a breakdancer, a harmonica player – and after months of rehearsals and logistical problems 2,000 people turn up to watch.

Though the result is emotive without being mawkish, it’s the participants’ hard-knock life stories that linger long after the event. The greatest success of this award-winning film, though, is that it stresses the importance of life-affirming endeavours; it also serves as a reminder to stop sleepwalking through our cities, and to appreciate those who take away our crap.

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