Public Art

After spending a long and hot - albeit amazing - month filming dancers in Johannesburg, South Africa, I met Ruth. It was my last day before I flew back to the UK.

She walked past me on the street - I was blown away, she was absolutely stunning. I stopped her and told her I had to shoot her before I left. I asked what she did and she told me she was a ballet dancer with nowhere to dance - all the dance spaces in the city of Johannesburg are expensive and made for the wealthy or run down and unsafe.

I'd spent the past month filming groups of Pantsula dancers, a very traditional South African dance originated from the townships. It was surreal to meet Ruth by coincidence; a lone lost ballet dancer in this huge city. I had about 6 hours before I had to leave and no money left but I had to see her dance.

I called round all my new Jozi friends looking for a space they thought I could use for a couple of hours, that afternoon and had no luck. By sheer chance, I stopped by Hei Cafe, a young, back alley hangout which some of my buddies run - they introduced me to a young man who worked in a big building in the CBD. He told me there was a disused dance studio at the top of the building which I was welcome to use for 2 hours. I called Ruth and we arranged to meet there an hour later.

I told Ruth to pretend I wasn't there and dance to her hearts content. Her movement was seamless, beautiful and elegant. When she finished dancing, I sat with her on the floor of the studio and I asked her to tell me why she dances - what she told me is what you hear at the beginning of the video - first take.

Music by Arae.
Directed & shot by Mollie Mills.


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