Dance on Camera

Pop the corn! The festival returns to Walter Reade Theater.

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  • Photograph: Andrew Eccles

    Dance on Camera

    Check Your Body at the Door

  • Photograph: Dina Makaroff

    Makarova: In a Class of Her Own

  • Photograph: Herbert Migdoll

    Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Asenda Kiuchi

    The Space in Back of You

  • Photograph: Pontus Lidberg

    "Labyrinth Within"

Photograph: Andrew Eccles

Dance on Camera

Check Your Body at the Door

Balanchine in Paris
Dir. Dominique Delouche
France, 2011; 57mins
The French director, who served as Federico Fellini's assistant in the '50s, adds another feather to his ballet headdress. Here, Delouche draws on previous interviews with Alicia Markova, Nina Vyroubova and Violette Verdy to focus on the process of coaching in Balanchine ballets. It's an art. Delouche shows the intricacies of Symphony in C, La Sonnambula and Liebeslieder Walzer. As Verdy puts it: "Balanchine exalts. He always takes you to the heights."

Check Your Body at the Door
Dirs. Charles Atlas and Michael Schwartz
USA, 2011; 60mins
House culture is brought to the forefront in this look at urban dance, which focuses on performers Archie Burnett—in many ways, he is the soul of the documentary—Willi Ninja, Barbara Tucker, Asia Moon and Brahms "Bravo" LaFortune, pictured. The concept is by Burnett and Sally Sommer, a writer and historian who has followed club dancing for years; no, it's not just about dancing.

Makarova: In a Class of Her Own
Dir. Derek Bailey England, 1985; 52mins
"Can you analyze what makes 'old-fashioned' in ballet?" the Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova asks Roland Petit during a break. His reply: "I think that old-fashioned is no talent." Hilarious. This vintage gem spotlights Makarova as she works with Irina Yakobsen and Petit. Do you care about placement? How a dancer can appear to walk on a cloud? If so, you'll care about this.

Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance
Dir. Bob Hercules USA, 2011; 90mins
Joffrey Ballet is confusing: There is Robert Joffrey, above, and then Gerald Arpino, a minor choreographer that this documentary tries too hard to legitimize. But the company's historic revivals were tremendous, as was Joffrey's eye for new talent: He helped put Twyla Tharp on the map, and for that, I bow down. In exploring the company's history, this film exposes the difference between being dated and current.

The Space in Back of You
Dir. Richard Rutkowski
USA, 2011; 65mins
This film focuses on Suzushi Hanayagi, a traditional Japanese dancer-turned-experimentalist, and also mirrors the ways in which modern dance shifted into postmodernism. Interview subjects include longtime collaborator Robert Wilson, Simone Forti and Anna Halprin, who describes Hanayagi's sense of timing: "She's not so much an object of space as she becomes a creator of space around her.

"Labyrinth Within"
Dir. Pontus Lidberg Sweden, 2010; 29mins
Any chance to immortalize Wendy Whelan on film is cause for celebration: In the spooky "Labyrinth Within," she works with Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg—who, incidentally, will serve as the resident choreographer of Morphoses—in a look at jealousy and desire also featuring the strapping Lidberg and Giovanni Bucchieri. For Whelan, this dance thriller is a crazy, smooth move.

Dance on Camera is at Walter Reade Theater Jan 27--31.

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