FILM preview First steps

Director Sally Potter follows Orlando with The Tango Lesson - and takes a whirl in front of the camera.

Words Beth Williams

It was for the tango that BrItIsh fIlmmaker Sally Potter dumped Rage, the film scrIpt she had struggled to erte for two years after the success of Orlando Potter - a professional dancer when In her twentIes 4 had enjoyed a long lIne of love affaIrs vath the waltz, the QuIckstep, the rumba and the cha cha, but It was only the tango that became a total obsessIon.

'The musIc Is so rIch, so powerful, so passIonate,’ says Potter, ’and the tango Involves yOu on so many levels physIcaIIy and emotionally that, when I was lookIng for a story that would naturally Integrate dance sequences, l realIsed It was under my nose. It was In my Me, It's the story of a film dIrector who falls In love vath the tango.’

Indeed, the demands of calling the shots as a dIrector were an Important factor III the tango's attractIon 'I love "followmg" In the dance,’ she explains, ' lead my whole Me as a dIrector, so :t's a holiday to follow, It's very relaXIng and takes my mind off everythIng '

So thIs Is how Potter began making

The Tango Lesson, 3 story of love not only between a man and a woman, but also of love between a dIrector and performer, between two dancers, and between two people of dIfferent cultures.

'I put a lot of energy Into tryIng to portray a really quIte complIcated relahonship,’ says the director, who also wrote the script and composed the mu5Ical score. 'I dIstilled, transformed and shaped my IIfe Into thIs story which I hope peOpIe WIll IdentIfy with.’

SInce the tango has such a strong Importance to Potter personally, It was a natural chOIce to play herself, alongside acclarmed ArgentInIan dancer Pablo Veron, despIte never haVIng acted on film before.

'It was terrIfyIng,' she says of the actIng experIence. 'I’m not somebody that prances around With great ease In front of the camera, but thIs was a speCIal case. I also felt very alone, exposed and Imperfect as I couldn't create the respect for myself as a performer that I always Create for other performers when I'm dIrectIng,’

However, accustomed to the dIrectorIal role, she dId find acting surprisingly liberatIng. 'It was an opportunity to drop all the preoccupations of a dIrector, where basically you're lIke a frantIc chIId running around making one thousand decIsIons a mInute. In front of the camera, everythIng stops There's a moment of sIlence I c0uld be totally me In the scene, and that's very thrIIlIng'

Dancing in the dark: Sally Potter and Pablo Veron in The Tango Lesson

So, after the trauma of ar'tIng, the long hours of dIrertIng, the frustratIons of ertIng, and the blisters and bruIses of dantIng, has the appeal of the tango worn off at all for Potter7

'When I hear the tango,’ she says passIonately, ‘all the harm start to stand up on my arms and the bacl; of my

neck actually ham" to watch how many tangos l lIsten to In a day now or I get all sort of shaky, \‘hth Itchy feet, and l want to get up there and dante arraIn '

Glasgow Film Theatre from Mon 15-Thu 18 Dec.


28 THE UST 5—18 Dec 1997

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