Maya Deren 1917-1961
A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)
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.