Efforts to capture the art of dance on-screen have led to a genre that’s as varied as the subject itself, whether in films exploring the pioneering technique of dancer and choreographer Martha Graham (see, for instance, 1959’s Martha Graham: Dance on Film) or the experimental emotion of Pina Bausch (Wim Wenders’s 2011 work Pina). Last night marked the opening of the forty-fourth annual Dance on Camera festival, a celebration of that artistic pairing, hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and copresented with the Dance Films Association, which just celebrated the sixty-year anniversary of its commitment to preserving and supporting dance on film. This year’s festival, which highlights an impressive and diverse array of films and artists, features new work from around the world, in addition to retrospective screenings, panel discussions, and live talks. From Bessie: A Portrait of Bessie Schonberg, D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus’s intimate 1998 portrait of the modern dancer-choreographer, to Jack Walsh’s new documentary about revolutionary dancer-choreographer Yvonne Rainer, there is a wealth of films to see over the next four days.
The festival kicked off last night with a meet-the-artist talk by two-time Emmy-winning choreographer Pat Birch (seen above working on the 1978 smash hit Grease), in which she spoke about her celebrated career in film and on the stage. Later in the evening, the festival’s opening-night film, Tom Moore’s The Flight Fantastic, a new documentary about famed trapeze artists the Flying Gaonas, had its New York premiere. For more on everything there is to see at Dance on Camera, head here.