Been Rich All My Life
Heather Lyn MacDonald, U.S., 2005; 81m
In their heyday, Marion Coles, Fay Ray, Cleo Hayes, Bertye Lou Wood and Elaine Ellis, the five women who are the subjects of this inspiring, heartwarming film were tap dancing showgirls who appeared in the hottest clubs in New York with legendary band leaders like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. When the Big Band era ended, they got regular jobs, from welding to bartending. But in 1985 they regrouped as “The Silver Belles” and began appearing in theaters to standing ovations from the Apollo to Carnegie Hall.
Sringaram/ Dance of Love
Sharada Ramanathan, India, 2005; 117m (in Tamil with subtitles)
First time director Ramanathan creates an exciting narrative with an original music score, set in southern India depicting the life of a temple dancer, or devadasi. The devadasis lived in the Thanjavur district in the 1920’s and occupied a privileged position there under the protection of the state. The film tells the story of one of these girls, caught in a conflict between her role as mistress to a wealthy landlord and her passion for her dance. An engrossing tale of love and liberation, Sringaram features examples of the sadir, the original temple dance that was later revived as Bharata Natyam, the most widely performed dance form of the region.
Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance
Charles Atlas, US/France, 2000; 90m
This full-length portrait of one of the most beloved and significant figures in contemporary arts, was shown on PBS’s American Masters in a 60 minute version. Here is an opportunity to enjoy the expanded profile of the choreographer who pioneered new concepts of movement, computer technology and dance, and created pieces that have inspired peers, fascinated critics and perplexed the public for over fifty years.
Gina Czarnecki, UK/Australia, 2005; 10m
A graphic feat, an elegant, mysterious puzzle that reveals itself fully only in the last moments. Traces of movement, choreographed by Garry Stewart of the Australian Dance Theatre, appear as blips in transmission or digital “vibrations.”
A Breath of Pina Bausch
Huseyin Karabey, Turkey, 2005; 40m (in Dutch, with English subtitles)
A taciturn Pina Bausch smiles, nods, and takes notes for the marvelous dancers of her Wuppertal Dance Theatre, seen rehearsing and performing in Istanbul. Enigmatic as always, the choreographer nevertheless offers a privileged glimpse of herself at work.
Mark de Cloe, Netherlands, 2005; 62m
Two veterans of wordless theatre productions, Ria Marks and Titus Tiel Groenestege, offer a duet by turns absurd, outrageous and poignant, exploring an embattled yet bizarrely enduring relationship in ways that recall Buster Keaton and Becket simultaneously. The Orkater music/theater collective has been creating work since 1983. This is the first of a proposed man-woman trilogy.
Back to Kinshasa
Luli Barzman, France, 2004; 32m (French with English subtitles)
This is an engrossing portrait of a promising young choreographer and dancer, Faustin Linyekula. The film traces his duality– his roots in the Congo as well as his evolution as a modern dancer in France. We see several excerpts of new work, including “Spectacularly Empty II” which shows how he uses his African heritage and his modern dance training to create meaningful work.
Varo/Waiting – Nominated for a Jury Prize
Gabor Kasza, Hungary, 2005; 8m
A waiting room in a train station is momentarily transformed into a frenetic free-for-all for a motley cast of characters before order is restored. This is freelance photographer Kasza’s first film.
Blush – Nominated for a Jury Prize
Wim Vanderkeybus, Belgium, 2005; 52m
Choreographed and directed by the audacious Vanderkeybus, this is a dazzling voyage based on a performance of the eponymous Ultima Vez to a rock score by David Eugene Edwards, Blush explores the unconscious in its savage ritualized state and was performed last year as a stage performance in Montclair, New Jersey.
Constantin Nepokoitchitzky aka “Nepo”
Dany and Roland Coste, U.S., 2003; 29m
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Russian artist “Nepo’s” death, his son, Michael Smith and his co-directors, bring together a group of his friends, including ballerinas Yvette Chauvire, Violette Verdi, as well as choreographer and dancers Janine Charrat and Pierre Lacotte, for a celebratory dinner and some delightful recollections of the costume and set designer on whom Chauvire relied professionally for more than fifteen years.
Phoenix Dance – Nominated for a Jury Prize
Karina Epperlein, U.S., 2005; 23m
Homer Avila, an extraordinary dancer who lost a leg to cancer, is the subject of this moving documentary that features the creation of a duet by San Francisco based choreographer Alonzo King. Avila, who died last year, danced with Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris and Momix.
Jean-Pierre Perreault: Giant Steps – JURY WINNER
Paule Baillargeon, Canada, 2005; 52m
A superb film made by an actress turned filmmaker, about a Quebecois choreographer who originally stated that he didn’t like to dance (“I’m a painter,” he insisted), yet left an artistic legacy that is uniquely his. Perreault’s vision of a group of faceless average “Joe’s,” boot-clad and black-hatted, moving as a block of humanity through inhospitable space, made a profound impression on audiences. The documentary explores the choreographer’s unhappy childhood, his literary and artistic influences, his love of travel, and his ultimate dream to make choreography for 200 dancers, rather like Werner Herzog’s film character Fitzcaraldo, who dragged his ship over a mountain.
Hail the New Puritan
Charles Atlas, U.S., 1986, 84m
Michael Clark has been described as ‘British dance’s true iconoclast” and his work as both “raw” and “refined.” That description, with the nationality changed to American, also could apply to Charlie Atlas and his work as a video and film maker. The two artists collaborated on this punk odyssey filmed in the streets of London, at clubs, parties and in Clark’s loft. Clark was trained in Scottish dance and at London’s Royal Ballet, then strayed into the punk world only to re-emerge with a triumphant stage comeback this year.