Dancing ballet in the MoMA galleries | Isabella Boylston | MoMA BBC | THE WAY I SEE IT

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Isabella Boylston is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York and this week’s guest on The Way I See It, our radio collaboration wi...

:2020-01-14T22:15:07+0000

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Isabella Boylston is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York and this week’s guest on The Way I See It, our radio collaboration with BBC. In this episode, Boylston looks at A Study in Choreography for Camera, a 1945 film by Maya Deren and Talley Beatty. To our delight, her response included grand jetés through our galleries. Beatty’s movements seem to prompt and react to Deren’s film camera. Dancer and camera move in sync—fitting for Boylston who is no stranger to the lens. Boylston shares her love of dance with her huge Instagram following—on grand stages, faraway beaches, city streets, living rooms, and in the many arts institutions that she frequents.

“He has the perfect ballet body. Man, those legs, arms, and face—everything,” Boylston says of Beatty as he extends his long leg—a développé, she points out—leading the camera from forest to living room. And then, with a flick of the wrist, dancer and camera are at the sculpture terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then, with a whirl, back in the forest. The film is full of whimsy and, as Boylston notes, highly surreal. “This was revolutionary in the mid 1940s,” Sophie Cavoulacos, MoMA’s assistant curator of film, explains, “to make this kind of work—a work that isn’t a straight document, a work that has movement but no sound, that is not rational or narrative in the way that its shots, sets, and spaces meld into one another.” The term “choreocinema,” she continues, was used by these artists to describe this new form of choreography—a pas de deux performed between dancer and filmmaker. Perhaps most radical, Boylston notes, is the film’s genesis despite the extreme obstacles facing a female filmmaker and African American dancer in 1945.

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The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speaker alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist. 

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