As beautiful as Lincoln Center is, as lovely the fountain, there are few things less fun than zinging from Meatpacking to West 63rd Street as quickly as the show schedule — split between Milk, the tents at Lincoln Center, and other venues all over New York City — would call for. It’s without tears that we say goodbye to Lincoln Center, the uptown former home of fashion week. The relationship ends now.
“IMG Fashion Week shall vacate the premises and remove all tents and other Fashion Week equipment from the park,” stated the settlement. That’s Damrosch Park, an area adjacent to Lincoln Center that had been damaged by past fashion weeks.
According to the New York Post, Cleo Dana, a chair of the Friends of Damrosch Park and a plaintiff in the suit, stated, “Almost 5 years ago I woke up to the sound of power saws and watched helplessly as our beautiful neighborhood Park was destroyed by the monstrous Fashion Week.”
So where to next, fashion? Can’t we figure out a way to get everyone showing within walking distance?
In its myriad styles and variations, the art of dance is truly one of the most beautiful forms of physical expression. And whether you’re watching a performance live on stage before you or captured on film, the emotionally engaging and stunning work of dance is always a sight to behold. And in 1971, the Dance on Camera Festival had its inaugural run, presenting a vast array of films that crossed over from documentaries and experimental works to shorts and music videos. It began as a celebration of “ immediacy of dance combined with the intimacy of film.”
And now, in its 42nd year, Dance Films Association have again collaborated with Film Society of Lincoln Center to present 2014’s festival—and this time around, its scope is just as broad and fascinating as we’d hope for. Beginning this Friday, they’ll be showing films that highlight dances modern “trend toward unusual collaborations (dance and skating, dance and horses, dance and circus) and a recognition that dance thrives best in the bosom of a creative community.”
From rare retrospective screenings such as Chantal Akerman’s 1983 Pina Bausch documentary One Day Pina Asked… to brilliant world premiere’s like Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter, this is one festival you’re going to want to throw yourself into completely. So to celebrate, we’re giving you a taste of what will be playing at the Walter Reade Theater beginning this weekend. So peruse the films below, slip into something you can move your body in freely, and enjoy.
A fortuitous encounter between two icons of film and dance, Pina Bausch and Chantal Akerman, One Day Pina Asked… is Akerman’s singular look at the work of the remarkable choreographer and her Wuppertal Tanztheater during a five-week European tour. More than a conventional documentary, Akerman’s film is a journey through her world, a world composed of striking images and personal memories transformed. Capturing the company’s rehearsals and including performance excerpts from signature works such as Komm Tanz Mit Mir (Come Dance with Me, 1977) and Nelken (Carnations, 1982), the director applies her unique visual skills to bring us close to her enigmatic subject. Writing about the film, Richard Brody in The New Yorker, said “”With her audacious compositions, decisive cuts and tightrope-tremulous sense of time-and her stark simplicity-it shares, in a way that Wenders film doesn’t, the immediate exhilaration of the moment of creation.” An Icarus Films release.
Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter tells the inspiring and largely unknown story of a woman whose life was defined by her love for dance. Martha Hill emerges as dance’s secret weapon, someone who fought against great odds to establish dance as a legitimate art form in America. Through archival footage, lively interviews with friends and intimates, and rare footage of the spirited subject, the film explores Hills’s arduous path from a Bible Belt childhood in Ohio to the halls of academe at NYU and Bennington College to a position of power and influence as Juilliard’s founding director of dance (1952-1985). Peppered with anecdotal material delivered by dance notables who knew her, this revelatory story depicts her struggles and successes, including the battle royal that accompanied her move to the Lincoln Center campus. (Photo by Thomas Bouchard.)
Paul Taylor is one of the dance world’s most elusive and admired choreographers. For over 50 years, he has only given glimpses into his creative process, but for his 133rd dance, Three Dubious Memories, he opens the door and allows the filmmaker into his creative process. The dance he is choreographing is a Rashomon-like exploration of memory, three characters entangled in a relationship, each believing only in his own dark memory of it. The dominant voice in the documentary is Taylor’s, and it is alternately soothing, demanding and amused. Between the guarded and unguarded moments, the viewer is witness to a mysterious work ethic that has created some of the most iconic modern dances of our time.
A flickering dance of intriguing imagery brings to light the possibilities of ordinary movements from the everyday which appear, evolve and freeze before your eyes. Made entirely from archive photographs and footage from the earliest days of moving image, All This Can Happen follows the footsteps of the protagonist from the short story “The Walk” by Robert Walser. Juxtapositions, different speeds and split-frame techniques convey the walker’s state of mind as he encounters a world of hilarity, despair and ceaseless variety. Hinton is an award-winning director who has worked with some of the best known names in contemporary dance, including DV8 Physical Theatre, Siobhan Davies, and Russell Maliphant.
The exciting journey begins in 1915 when a young German skater ignites America’s love with dancing on ice. The Fabulous Ice Age chronicles a century of theatrical skating, from Berlin’s Charlotte, to America’s Ice Follies, Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and the Sonja Henie shows, illustrating how these big spectaculars dominated live entertainment for decades while simultaneously depicting one particular skater’s quest to share this history. Never before seen footage, photos and rare archival material introduce us to a handful of skaters, producers and entrepreneurs who helped change their world.
Director Toa Fraser brings The Royal New Zealand Ballet to the big screen, capturing their acclaimed production of the ballet classic Giselle. Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg have re-staged the production (after Petipa) with an eye toward the inherent drama of the tragic romance. The two-act ballet has been reimagined by Fraser, who interweaves the filmed stage performance with behind the scenes moments that hint at a romance between the dancers. ABT principal Gillian Murphy and RNZ’s Qi Huan perform the doomed lovers with impressive conviction and the second act captures the haunting essence of this enduring masterpiece.
Imagine a life devoted to blending the artistry of dance with the physicality of horsemanship! That is exactly what the unconventional choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw has done with Equus Projects. Her previous large-scale works for dancers and horses have been produced throughout the United States. Now, she takes her company to Sweden to work with new elements and new friends in the rural countryside. Ulrike Michels Nord, director of Klinten Kultur, a company of young adults with autism, opens the way for the American choreographer to create a magical piece that expresses the joys and challenges of bringing together unfamiliar beasts (the new horses), trainers, professional dancers and autistic individuals to make a work of art in a mystical setting—the Hovdala castle and library ruin deep in a forest. The challenge is to accomplish this feat in just 12 days.
This bold collaboration of music and movement blends Circa’s exhilarating brand of contemporary circus with the exquisite sound of I Fagiolini’s choral singing. How Like an Angel, commissioned by the London 2012 Festival, celebrates the beauty and grandeur of three stunning English cathedrals while displaying the artistry of the circus performers. Polyphonic Films captures the live performance brilliantly, catching the essence of this ground-breaking collaboration. Film commissioned by The Space in association with BBC.
From the moment of his dramatic leap to freedom at Paris’ Bourget Airport in 1961, Rudolf Nureyev was embraced as a ballet idol. On the 20th anniversary of his death, Fabrice Herrault, a notable New York ballet teacher and film collector trained at the Paris Opera Ballet and the Conservatoire, has assembled an impressionistic tribute film that showcases this Byronic artist in some of his peerless early performances through archival footage, much of it previously unseen, revealing “Rudi” at the peak of his powers. As director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Noureev guided the careers or rising stars, among them Sylvie Guillem and Isabelle Guérin. Former Paris Opera Ballet star, Isabelle Guérin, will join the filmmaker and French dance historian Helene Ciolkovitch, to share memories of her mentor.
Until now, Vincent Paterson has remained the dance world’s best kept secret, avoiding the spotlight and concentrating on the work itself. So it may come as a surprise to learn that he is, as the film’s title suggests, the man behind the careers of superstars Michael Jackson and Madonna—in fact, the inventor of some of their defining dance moves—as well as the choreographer who created the ensemble dance numbers for Björk and dancers in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Through previously unseen rehearsal footage from Paterson’s own private collection and iconic films clips that made history (Smooth Criminal, Blonde Ambition and more), the film looks at the private Vincent. From his family oriented Catholic boyhood in suburban Pennsylvania to the glamor factory of Hollywood and the heady experience of choreographing for Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis!, this is a personal and professional journey to be savored.
Prima is a moving portrait of Larissa Ponomarenko, prima ballerina of the Boston Ballet, who has recently hung up her pointe shoes to pursue new avenues of self-expression. Through flashbacks to her journey from a difficult childhood and rigorous ballet training in Russia to her emergence as the prima ballerina of a leading American ballet company, the film captures Larissa’s uniqueness as an artist of many emotional colors. Now, as she transitions from prima ballerina to mentor to aspiring dancers, she also magically re-invents herself as a dancer, showing a new expressivity and a more modern approach to her art in filmed improvisations in unexpected settings—a field, a forest, even a subway station!
THE UNSEEN SEQUENCE, Sumantra Ghosal (2013)
The Unseen Sequence finds new meanings and renewed vigor in India’s classical dance tradition through one dedicated disciple. Malavika Sarukkai is a celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer rooted in that tradition but imbued with a uniquely contemporary sensibility that she exerts on this prescribed form, turning each performance into a new, revelatory experience. As a superb interpreter of Bharatanatyam’s rhythmic and expressive aspects, she is the perfect guide for this investigation of an ancient art that has evolved from temple dance to court entertainment to a new, more universal model. Beautifully shot in temples and sacred sites, the film blends interviews, historic footage, and performance to create a truly mind enhancing experience.
Director Jonathan Demme and choreographer Annie-B Parson join Dance on Camera for the recurring Meet the Artist series, a program which provides audiences a dynamic opportunity to learn from a filmmaker’s expertise with a particular focus on the influence and inclusion of dance film within the filmmaker’s body of work.
After 30 years of filming and photographing the world’s most violent wars and conflicts, award-winning British photographer Sebastian Rich is turning his lens to something more beautiful but no less powerful—the world of dance. Rich will join choreographer Igal Perry and Dance on Camera co-curator Liz Wolff to explore his photography and his journey from bullets to ballet.
Everybody’s ditching Lincoln Center. Could Spring Studios be the new venue? Considering DVF and Michael Kors have supposedly hopped on board, and the space has housed a few fashion events previously, including Calvin Klein’s 10 year anniversary show.
Aaron Curry is refreshing and uncommon. He makes sculpture that hits some fairly obvious references—Calder, Picasso—and he has a hell of a good time with materials, colors, and patterns. That’s not to say that his work is dumbed-down; it’s simply accessible, and entertaining, and it doesn’t require a 1,000-word press release in order to make sense. As such, Curry was the perfect candidate for the public art project that’s just been unveiled at Lincoln Center which features 14 of the Los Angeles-based artist’s aluminum creations resembling manic doodles materialized in space. Here, a few images from “Melt to Earth.”
(Don’t be confused, they’re actual photos, not renderings; it’s just that Curry’s eye-popping palette makes the sculptures appear to jump out of their surroundings.) The suite of works will be on view through January 6.
This past September during the New York Film Festival, I got the chance to sit down with beloved filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. His latest enigmatic and complex study of the human heart, Like Someone in Love—the story of a Tokyo student moonlighting as a prostitute who develops a connection with an elderly window—had its New York premiere the night prior to our interview. Alongside a Kiarostami retrospective at Lincoln Center, Like Someone in Love begins its theatrical run this Friday.
Your film was tough.
Tough? Iʼd like to know what you mean by that.
It challenges you.
Yes, but I’m not even talking about this film. I mean generally speaking for a young person like you—what does a ‘toughʼ film mean?
I think something that challenges you emotionally. So many films nowadays are catered towards short attention spans and a film like this, and a film I would find challenging, is something you have to pace yourself through.
Is it down to the fact thereʼs not that much going on and thereʼs not that much action every second?
No, itʼs not there isnʼt enough, itʼs just that you have to stay very engaged or youʼll feel like youʼre missing something.
Well, youʼre not supposed to go into a film to come into it. The film is there to grab you. If it doesn’t, itʼs the filmʼs fault not yours. Iʼm sorry if the film didn’t grab you. Maybe itʼs just because as an audience goes and picks films, maybe films also pick their spectators—they choose all of a sudden to make one person and take them in and the others are in their own thoughts.
I enjoyed that everything is an illusion, especially love. It’s painfully ephemeral. Nothing is solid, forever.
Yes, that’s true—but how do you know this? How does someone as young as you know this?
I guess I’ve just always thought as much, especially with something like love, something as sensitive as love. No one ever really knows anything, do they?
I wonder, what’s happened to you in your life this far that’s made you feel this way? Most people your age think love is the only definitive answer.
Maybe I’m disillusioned. Or just in love.
Well, then I admire you, you graduated early.
Perhaps. Shall we move on?
So what had sparked your interest in making a story that took place in Japan, a place you hadn’t explored before cinematically.
Iʼm not sure how it was triggered. What I do remember, is that when I was a young director—so I wasn’t even nationally acknowledged—it was kind of a joke I would tell my friends, one day Iʼll go and make a film in Japan. Maybe just for the curiosity of just having a close look at new face—faces that have different eyes, different skin, people that sound different to what weʼre familiar with. And now that I’ve become a photographer and Iʼm interested in this kind of details, I think maybe thatʼs where this longing came from, just being able to pace on these faces and look at that up closely.
Why did you decide on the title Like Someone in Love? I feel like it lends itself to the story so well thematically—everything could be an illusion or a disguise—like love—and itʼs more accurate to say that youʼre like someone or these characters are like someone in love than simply in love because love is never just one definite feeling and these people are never simply showing one side of that.
Iʼm so glad you have this answer yourself because otherwise I would have had to tell that to you and I donʼt consider love like anything definite. Not only in time, because itʼs temporary, but even during this temporary moment you donʼt know exactly what state youʼre in and very often you deny it afterwards saying, “No, I wasn’t in love.”
And the title, I remember as a teenage when I liked jazz music, I had already bee stricken by this title and I liked the idea of the approximation of love more than love itself. I had found it interesting and then I had forgotten it, and in the process of the film I remembered there was something like that and I looked for it again. The theme, the music, was also very useful and appropriate for this film.
I was wondering if you think that a lot of films give away too much information to the point where it numbs the audience so they don’t have to answer questions or engage. Thatʼs what I was trying to say before when I said it was challenging. If a film gives away too much then you donʼt have to feel anything from it, but questioning things and learning something from art is kind of a reason for living, right?
Well, I think giving away too much information is being disrespectful to the viewerʼs intelligence and own personality. I think I’ve always believed that spectators are just as creative as filmmakers. Filmmakers happen to have been in touch with a camera and production and so they’ve made something, but it doesn’t mean that people who are there to see the film have nothing to think or nothing to say or donʼt have their own creativity. So I just pay tribute to this creativity, not giving too much information. I have my loyalty to real life and in real life we never say anything to the other and we let the other also bring their own information and their own experience of life in the relationship that have with us, so why should it be different in film because you are sitting in a theater in front of a screen? Do you have to leave your curiosity and your own thinking aside and be fed by the film? Whenever I have the opportunity to see the people who are sitting in a theater after seeing one of my films, I look at their faces and I look at the features of the faces and I suddenly feel responsible and say well, these people look intelligent and thoughtful, they have plenty of things to say and so thereʼs no reason why I should be the one who tells them, they have things to tell me. So I create but then I need their creation back.
Your films deal with things hidden or not said, as well as people changing their relationships and personalities. It’s a reflection of how people have so many varied people inside them, but usually in film we only see this one person. Your films, they allow us to see one person brought to life in all their personalities.
Yes, this again is only loyalty to the real complex nature of human beings. I think even painters in classic paintings, they tried to show the soul of the portrait, of the human beings that they were drawing or painting because they realized that human beings were not uni-dimensional. So there was no reason why they couldn’t try and give something to this complexity of this plain character, this fool character. So in cinema, we have moving images, we have three dimensional images and why should we show people just as blind characters. Of course they are complex, and this complexity and even this secretiveness is part of human nature. Your soul dictates you not to reveal yourself immediately and not to appear naked and to have your own complexity, your own intelligence. So this intelligence should be considered. It has been in art and paintings so it definitely should be in filmmaking too.
Being a filmmaker in a foreign country where you donʼt speak the language and are dealing with the sensibility of a new world, do you think that informs the type of film that youʼre making and changes you as an artist?
There is no doubt that there must be an impact at least. It makes me write all the details of a script and of dialogue which I usually wouldnʼt do if I were in my home country and the distance that I have with actors who are not speaking my language and who are not from the same culture as mine. So it does have an impact on my work. But then I think the result, which is the film thatʼs made, should be taken in its autonomy and in its own existence without wondering what it would have been if it had been under different circumstances. It should be taken as it is and it should be looked at as with itʼs own specificities here and now, not wondering what else it could have been.
Sufjan Stevens really likes composing with big themes in mind—there were the “states” albums Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State and Illinois; there was that intense and rather diverse series of Christmas albums. And for his upcoming ballet, Year of the Rabbit, which premieres at Lincoln Center on October 5, he extends his explorations of the Chinese zodiac.
The new ballet is one of several iterations of the Chinese zodiac theme for Stevens, beginning with his 2001 album, Enjoy Your Rabbit, which became arrangements for Run Rabbit Run, a recreation of album by Brooklyn’s Osso, in 2009. For Year of the Rabbit, Stevens and choreographer Justin Peck have expanded their 2010 work for the New York Choreographic Institute, Tales of A Chinese Zodiac, into a full ballet featuring orchestral arrangements recreated from Run Rabbit Run.
In the promotional clip for the ballet below, dancers Janie Taylor and Craig Hill dance upon the sand to a familiar Sufjan track, “Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake.” The video will be screened tonight (and was last night) as part of a special Q&A with Stevens and Justin Peck at the Guggenheim Museum as part of their lauded “Works and Process” series. You’ll be able to watch that conversation on the Guggenheim website, if you’re interested in learning more. Watch below.