Many of us have long distanced ourselves from—or were too young to experience—the terror of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and how it affected the dance community. TEST, a film by former Ballet Frankfurt dancer Chris Mason Johnson, brings us back to when the virus was first emerging and fear was at its greatest. Frankie, played by LEVYdance’s associate artistic director Scott Marlowe, is apprenticing with a contemporary dance company in San Francisco, where he meets love interest Todd, played by Broadway vet Matthew Risch. Frankie is struggling to keep up in the studio, while outside, he is in constant paranoia about AIDS and feels like an outcast because of its social implications.
The film is heavy on drama and adult themes, but it’s also heavy on dance. Johnson cast real dancers from the Joffrey Ballet (Rory Hohenstein), San Francisco Ballet (Myles Thatcher, James Sofranko), and English National Ballet (Madison Keesler), as well as several other contemporary companies. And Sidra Bell crafted all the silky choreography. Dance is truly at the heart of this story.