Rating: 4 out of 5.

In the new documentary film Bare, these men are whittled down to eleven who rehearse and perform the premiere of Belgian choreographer Thierry Smit’s new dance piece ‘Anima Ardens.’ Director Aleksandr M. Vinogradov’s captures the auditions, and rehearsals, in this documentary that is both revealing, sexy and fun. Filmed in Brussels, the men, all presumably professional dancers, jump at the chance of working with Smits, a well-known choreographer who set up his own company in 1990, and who has created over 30 dance performances. His dance pieces are contemporary, with fusions of pop, queer and often provocative aesthetics included.

The eleven men have no problem getting naked. One, during the early stages of the audition, raises the question as to why the camera is in the room. The explanation is that a documentary will be made about this process answers the question, and the show goes on. However we really don’t get to know any of the dancers individually, and Smits, front and centre, also remains an enigma. But combining Smits with the dancers in their daily struggle to get the dance moves correct, with Smits not quite knowing exactly what he is looking for, brings mystery and drama into play.

All the dancers are very sexy, of course especially when naked, but after a bit, the nudity becomes almost invisible (but not quite) and it’s the performance piece they are rehearsing that takes centre stage because it’s unconventional. All the dancers appear to be very comfortable with each other, and near the end, they are all very playful in the showers as they clean up after a day of rehearsal. And Bare cleverly ends as the first performance of ‘Anima Ardens’ begins. Lucky for us, just a quick Google search will lead you to see the actual dance piece in its entirety. 

Bare is indeed bare; it’s sexy, raw and in your face.

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Bare held its world premiere at Hot Docs and has also been featured at Cinema Diverse, Doc NYC and DocEdge.

Look for it hopefully at UK film festivals in 2021.