The plight of the aging dancer seems like catnip to filmmakers. And for good reason: Dance is an art in which the breaking down of the body can become a metaphor for the loss of a certain kind of life. While in reality most dancers go on to have successful, fulfilling post-dance careers, the end of a senior dancer's run onstage does feel tragic. It's the kind of complex tragedy that, distilled and amplified by the camera's close scrutiny, makes for good film. Witness Anne Bancroft's poignantly frail Emma in The Turning Point, or Winona Ryder's unhinged Beth in Black Swan.
The new film Fall to Rise is another exploration of the aging-dancer theme, and it features a cast of dance celebrities. Martha Graham Dance Company's celebrated Katherine Crockett (who's making a splash these days in the immersive off-Broadway show Queen of the Night) stars as Lauren, a principal dancer who struggles with her identity after being sidelined by injuries. Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-director Desmond Richardson is Des, the leader of Lauren's company. And Daphne Rubin-Vega, Rent's original Mimi, plays Sheila, a former dancer who has a complicated relationship with Des. Drama, naturally, abounds.
Fall to Rise will have its world premiere in New York City next Saturday, April 5 at the First Time Festival. (It's one of 10 movies competing for the festival's top prize.) Click here for more information about the film.
Frederic Franklin in Valerie Bettis' A Streetcar Named Desire (1952). Photo courtesy DM Archives
In the June 1974 issue of Dance Magazine, our cover subject was the endlessly charming Frederic Franklin, then 60 years old. After declaring at the age of 4 that he was "going to be in the theater," the Liverpool-born dancer spent a lifetime doing exactly that.