Sara Mearns comes to movie theaters, You Don’t Need Feet to Dance DVD, web series city.ballet., Pontus Lidberg film on demand, Media Maven: Sydney Skybetter
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns’ devotion to her craft is well-documented. (Our June 2012 cover girl eats, breathes, and lives ballet.) As the lead character in A Dancer’s Dream: Two Works by Stravinsky, a New York Philharmonic production that will screen in theaters beginning Sept. 12, Mearns draws on that real-life devotion as her character transforms from ingénue to artist. Set to Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) and Petrushka, A Dancer’s Dream, which was filmed at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center last June, features choreography by Karole Armitage. It also incorporates real-time projections and innovative puppetry by Giants Are Small. Fellow NYCB principal Amar Ramasar also dances. Find a showing, distributed by Specticast, near you at www.dreamonscreen.com. —Kina Poon
A Dancer’s Dream. Photo by Chris Lee, Courtesy NY Phil.
You Don’t Need Feet to Dance. First Run Features. 88 minutes. $24.95.
This documentary is about Sidiki Conde, who was born in Guinea, West Africa, in 1961. At 14, he fell one day walking home from school and, as he says, “I never stood up again.” Details of Sidiki’s surviving polio are woven into the film in ways that function more like a dance than a narrative.
It wasn’t until late adolescence that Sidiki identified himself as a dancer when, desperate to join friends who’d been accepted onto a team for a coming-of-age festival, he was told “No,” because he couldn’t dance or play the drums. Without hesitation he insisted, “I can dance! Play the drums for me!” He proceeded to dance—on his hands. He made the team and eventually came to the U.S. in 1998, and formed his own dance company, Tokounou.
Whether on the streets of the East Village, in elevators, subways, or on his racing bike in Central Park, the force of Sidiki’s presence shines through. Resisting all interference, the camera gives us every opportunity to witness dance as a sacred act that cannot be contained by a theater, particular choreography, or body type. We are left with the sense that Sidiki’s dance continues, merely having moved beyond our purview. —Catherine Appel
We’ve been watching the inner workings of a ballet company on TV for two summers now (see cover story on Breaking Pointe, July). But to go into one of the largest companies in the country? The new web series city.ballet., which follows members of New York City Ballet from all ranks, has the potential to be groundbreaking. Produced by Pretty Matches Productions, helmed by actress (and NYCB board member) Sarah Jessica Parker, and Zero Point Zero Production, city.ballet. will appear online via AOL On this fall. With choreographers like Angelin Preljocaj, Benjamin Millepied, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon coming in and out of its studios this season, we’re eagerly anticipating watching the company’s stellar dancers onscreen in new works. www.nycballet.com and on.aol.com. —K. P.
In the wings at NYCB. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
The most clichéd moments in Hollywood always seem to happen in the middle of a tumultuous rainstorm. Yet Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg manages to override that aspect and instead soak the audience in the world he creates in his 2007 The Rain. The film, distributed by TenduTV, is now available for download on iTunes at www.tendu.tv/catalogue/the-rain for $1.99. The three couples portrayed in the film—a young man and woman, two young men, and an older man and woman— depict the give and take of a relationship to music by Hugo Therkelson and Joni Mitchell. Directed and choreographed by Lidberg, the sensually charged movement draws the viewer in from the start, and after a while, the rain becomes second nature. —Jay Oatis
The Rain. Photo by Max Brouwers, Courtesy TenduTV.
Media Maven: Sydney Skybetter
Dancers are constantly trying to find new ways to set themselves apart from the competition. In the current landscape, that means being smart about your image online. “The contemporary notion of branding is so much more exploded than it was just 10 years ago, when you had a logo on a website and letterhead, and that was your brand,” says Sydney Skybetter, Providence-based choreographer and half of Edwards & Skybetter, a creative consulting agency for dance and other kinds of organizations.
Photo of Skybetter by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Skybetter.
Skybetter recently posted a much-tweeted “apology” to recent dance graduates on the website of Dance/USA, where he’s on the board of trustees. “After teaching my annual senior seminar at NYU,” says Skybetter, who received his MFA from that school, “I thought I would summarize the content into a short and pithy blog post that could be shared more widely than in those halls. The function of that seminar is basically to slap students awake to the transition they’re about to make.”
Skybetter’s basic premise is that the traditional company model is giving way to project-based work, which means more job hunting and more self-marketing. His advice? Be selective about the technology in which you choose to engage. “There’s a question of overwhelm: ‘Oh my god, there’s so many—how do I do them all?’ You can’t, at least not very well. So we’re back at this triage question of which technology fulfills the job that you need done.” —J. O.