There’s something about the film Fall to Rise that just hits me in the guts. Leads Kathleen Crockett and Daphne Rubin-Vega deliver powerful performances as two former members of Husdon Dance Company who are struggling to carve out new identities after leaving the stage.
Lauren Drake (Crockett) and Sheila Jules (Rubin-Vega) are as different as two characters can be. While Lauren was forced into retirement by a severe knee injury, Sheila’s exit was a walk of shame following her assumedly messy romantic involvement with HDC’s artistic director, Des (Desmond Richardson). A chance meeting brings them together, setting them on a harried, frenzied mission to turn things around.
The characterization of these two women is further set off by their existence in a world of archetypes: the cash-strapped dance company, Lauren’s judgmental in-laws and frustrated husband, the sex-and-drugs-infested club underworld Sheila inhabits by night. The supporting cast includes Tamara Tunie, Kohl Sudduth, and John Rua.
Some of the best scenes in the film are those featuring Crockett’s dancing. Her statuesque, fluid beauty and the urgency and intensity of her movement sum up the heart of her and Rubin-Vegas’ struggle: what it means to feel crippled, what it means to stand up, and the intoxicating liberation that comes with resurrection and knowing you’re not alone.
Writer/director Jayce Bartok and producer Tiffany Bartok have delivered a punch with Fall to Rise. It’s emotional, uncomfortable, and raw.
The film won Best Feature at the 2014 On Location: Memphis International Film and Music Fest.