Dancing Across Borders: A Former PNB Star Emerges From Obscurity

By Gavin Borchert Wednesday, Apr 7 2010
Seattle Weekly First Run Features
Sar offstage in Cambodia.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., April 9–Thurs., April 15. Not rated. 88 minutes.
The story of Sokvannara Sar, who began performing traditional Khmer dance in Cambodia as a child; who was discovered by filmmaker Anne Bass, who sponsored his studies at New York's School of American Ballet;
and who was brought by Peter Boal from there to apprentice with (2006) and join the corps of (2007) Pacific Northwest Ballet. And with that, I'm afraid I've just spoiled the movie for you. (It premiered at SIFF last year; Sar has since left PNB and moved back to NYC, though he and Bass will attend the April 9 premiere.) One can hardly blame Sar for not having had a harder life, but this doc is completely drama-free. He's greatly talented, but is he unusually talented? And aren't there lots of dancers with backstories just as interesting? The dance footage is pleasurable and deftly edited (especially a scene of Sar dancing a Philip Glass piano piece with the composer at the keyboard, intercutting rehearsal and final-performance clips), but there's acres of it—because, you eventually realize, there's not much else to say about this guy. For dance geeks only.

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