For this groundbreaking avant-garde film, Deren filmed dancer Talley Beatty as he performed a highly condensed dance sequence in a variety of settings, from a forest locale, to a sitting room, and finally to a sculpture-filled courtyard. Deren directed the camera as if it were a dancer, expertly using cuts, varying film speeds, and backwards motion to create a dance that could only exist on film. As Deren wrote in 1965, the dance is “so related to camera and cutting that it cannot be ‘performed’ as a unit anywhere but in this particular film.” This work is considered one of the first major filmdances, and has influenced generations of artists and filmmakers since. –ubu.com
Maya Deren (April 29, 1917, Kiev – October 13, 1961, New York City), born Eleanora Derenkowsky, was an American avant-garde filmmaker and film theorist of the 1940s and 1950s. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, poet, writer and photographer.
Deren was born in Kiev, Ukraine to Solomon Derenkowsky and Marie Fiedler. It is said that she was named after Eleanora Duse, an Italian actress. In 1922 the family moved to Syracuse, New York. Her father shortened the family name to “Deren” shortly after they arrived in New York. He became the staff psychiatrist at the State Institute for the Feeble-Minded in Syracuse. In 1928, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Her mother moved to Paris to be with her daughter while she attended the League of Nations School in Geneva, Switzerland from 1930 to 1933.
Deren began college at Syracuse University, where she became active in the Trotskyist Young People’s Socialist League. Through the YPSL she met Gregory Bardacke… read more
In all of my favorite Deren films, Maya creates at least one powerful image that lasts with you like you just woke up from a dream. In this film, for me it was: (After all the flighty graceful movements) that final powerful pose.