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Abstract dance film documents the pain of recovery for one dance student

By Urbi Khan

In September of 2012, around 4 p.m., a week before her 27th birthday, professional dancer Miranda Forbes was severely injured after being struck by an SUV.

The day was, as Forbes recalls, very sunny. She was crossing the road on Bloor and Dufferin streets on her way to meet her friends—she took the day off of work to see them.

The rest of that day was a blur to Forbes, as she does not recall anything following the impact. But the process to heal became impossible for Forbes when she was told she would never be able to dance again—something that she would never forget, for the rest of her life.

Four years later, the Ryerson dance graduate is making her directorial debut with an abstract dance film titled Wall Stare, the story of artists who “endure.”

The idea of the film comes from the pain that can cripple one’s life. Forbes’ cites her experience in particular.

Wall Stare tells the story about Forbes’ vehicle accident and the recovery process that took place afterwards. The dancer spent a month at St. Michael’s Hospital and went through three years of physiotherapy.

The physiotherapy helped Forbes regain balance in her life, but she was left alone in her apartment to contemplate during the rehabilitation process.

Forbes said she felt comfortable doing “nothing” in her apartment, which is where the film title came from. A very common thing for her to do was to stare at the walls in her home all day. She said she felt happy doing only that.

It stars another Ryerson dance grad, Christianne Ullmark, who now works with the Toronto Dance Company. Ullmark portrays Forbes in the film, bringing her journey of recovery to life.

Dance is a form of art that mainly focuses on the human body and how it moves. Wall Stare intends to communicate this with its audience.

“The film is abstract—there is no dialogue. It has a lot of imagery and it focuses on the human body,” said Forbes. “Initially I wanted to make a documentary about traumatic brain injury. But instead I chose to make an abstract film, as I felt this would be a natural way to communicate.”

Forbes hopes to communicate the joy of dancing again throughout her scenes. This film, Forbes believes, will be a step forward in her recovery.

Wall Stare explores the nauseousness and quietness of recovery. It pairs energy and movement with the excitement of dancing again,” said Forbes. “The film throughout, contrasts the apartment scenes with scenes of dancing.”

The film project also includes Ryerson graduates Ann Tipper, cinematographer and co-producer of Wall Stare as well as the film editor and sound designer Kjell Boersma.

Wall Stare recently ran a very successful Indiegogo campaign that wrapped up in September, when the film was in preproduction.

Forbes and her team are looking forward to going through with production and they are aiming for a 2017 release.

With files from Annie Arnone

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