There are many streaming services, and OVID.tv offers a competitive alternative for those who are interested in a vast selection of independent films from all over the globe. There are special interest categories that include dance, concerts, arts and culture, directors, countries, issues, narratives and documentaries, among others.
Among the films premiering during the month of August under the “Dance Edit” umbrella are the following: “A Good Man,” which follows acclaimed director/choreographer Bill T. Jones (“Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Still/Here, FELA!”) as he and his company create their most ambitious work, an original dance-theater piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial.
Through two tumultuous years, we witness raw moments of frustration as Jones struggles to communicate his vision to his dancers and collaborators, as well as moments of great exhilaration when movement transcends the limitation of words. Jones and his company come face to face with America’s unresolved contradictions about race, equality and the legacy of our 16th President. Initially an indictment of “The Great Emancipator,” the work evolves into a triumph of hope for our struggling democracy, with Jones revealing that Lincoln was “the only white man I was allowed to love unconditionally.”
Premiering on the heels of Jones’ Tony Award for FELA! and 2010 Kennedy Center Honor, “A Good Man” is a window into the creative process and, indeed, the creative crisis of one of our nation’s most enduring, provocative artists as he explores what it means to be a good man, to be a free man, to be a citizen.
Jones is so meticulous in his instruction, sometimes to the point of great frustration for him and what I perceived as resentment within the dance company. But in the case of this performance, everything was needed to pull off perfection at Ravinia Festival.
“A Good Man” is a co-production of Kartemquin Films, AMERICAN MASTERS, Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Media Process Group, in association with Ravinia Festival.
“Miss Hill:Making Dance Matter” tells the inspiring and largely unknown story of Martha Hill, a visionary whose life was defined by her love for dance, and who successfully fought against great odds to establish modern dance as a legitimate art form in America.
In a career spanning most of the 20th century, Martha Hill became a behind-the-scenes leader of the dance world as the founding director of The Juilliard Dance Division, a position she held from 1952-85. Stylistically weaving together over 90 years of archival footage featuring Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Jose Limon, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and more, the film is a celebration of dance and an examination of the passion required to keep it alive.
Hill went to New York after leaving her home state of Ohio in 1926, and she started teaching dance at New York University. She was determined to live the life that she loved while dancing her way into many hearts and minds, as evidenced by the fact that she started teaching dance at Bennington College in Vermont in 1931, while also teaching at NYU. In 1951, Julliard blended the two worlds of ballet and modern dance to create something spectacular.
I loved this documentary because watching the art of modern dance manifest itself in the early 30’s and beyond was worth the look. Martha was so dedicated to her craft and she wanted others to experience the fluidity of dance, as well. There was a bit of a battle, if you will, between her commitment to “jazz” it up, and the traditional manner of ballet dance.
The documentary shows the remarkable chronicle of the tense battle over how the newly commissioned Lincoln Center in New York would apportion coveted funding and rehearsal space between Hill’s Juilliard dance division and Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet.
Other dance films include “The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen,” “Ballet Boys” and “Carmen and Geoffrey,” a film about the work of married American artists Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder.