Film explores global rituals of dance and rhythm

NEW YORK – Australian-based Luna Pictures will present the New York premiere screening of “Dances of Ecstasy” at the Knitting Factory on Wednesday, June 30, from 7:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Doors open at 7:30 with performances leading up to the screening, which begins promptly at 8:30 p.m., followed by a global party celebration. The film played in Los Angeles June 11 to a sold-out house of 800 and will open in San Francisco in July.

Filmmakers Michelle Mahrer and Nicole Ma will attend the NYC event and performers will include Yoruba trance drummers from Nigeria Omo Ibile.

“Dances of Ecstasy” explores how different cultures around the world connect with the spiritual dimension through dance and rhythm. Some of the traditions featured in the film are Sufi dervishes from Turkey, Spirit possession communities in Nigeria and Brazil, Moroccan trance and the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Southern Africa.

“Dances of Ecstasy,” a one-hour documentary, is a visual and aural feast for the senses, an innovative documentary blending exciting dance rituals, evocative imagery, interviews and a spellbinding global music soundtrack featuring original music recorded on location in Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco, Korea, Turkey and Brazil mixed with electronica and percussion. The film is an inspiration to dance, and to reconnect with a sense of the sacred that many have lost touch with in modern life.

The film’s world premiere took place in 2003 at the Melbourne International Arts Festival and then at Sydney Carnivale with global dance events that attracted sellout audiences, inspiring a diverse range of people from different communities, cultures and ages to come together on the dance floor. The success of the events encouraged the filmmakers to combine the screening of the film with the global dance party concept.

Filmmakers Mahrer and Ma began working in New York as a producer/director team of music videos. On their return to Australia they created Luna Pictures, specializing in films that explore cross-cultural themes. Mahrer is one of Australia's leading dance filmmakers. Her works include television documentaries on the Bangarra dance theater, choreographer Meryl Tankard, and leading Australian ballerinas Lucette Aldous, Marilyn Jones and Marilyn Rowe. Ma began her production career in New York working as a location manager on feature films, including Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” and went on to produce music documentaries for Annie Lennox, Michael Bolton and Newport Jazz Festival.

The San Francisco date and location are Friday, July 9, at 8:00 p.m. at StudioZ tv. Tickets are available through StudioZ tv 415-252-7666 or www.studioz.tv.

The Knitting Factory is located at 74 Leonard Street (B’way & Church). Tickets for the “Dances of Ecstasy” screening and party are $20. Advance tickets may be purchased through the Knitting Factory: 212-219-3132 or www.knittingfactory.com.