Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Last night I watched the film, In the Mirror of Maya Deren, directed by Martina Kudlacek. I had known about Maya Deren's work because of the book "Divine Horsemen". I also knew she was a film-maker and a dancer. But I hadn't ever seen much footage of her films. At UCLA back in 2003 I saw the film "Divine Horsemen" filmed in the 1940s in Haiti. I remember feeling simultaneously in awe at the beauty of the dances and movements of voudoun dance and horrified at the fact that these dances and rituals were captured on film.

I felt these contradictions last night as well, as I watched her incredible avant-garde film-making, her conceptual dances and images streaming across the screen. Her film, At Land, was brilliant in how she moved us from the sea into the forest and over into the boardroom. I could see how she was Erzulie, a true mermaid stuck on land. I love, also, how Meshes of the Afternoon takes us into dream time. So carefully choreographed and visually intriguing.

At one point, Maya Deren worked with Katherine Dunham and she was also served the goddess Erzulie, Papa Loko and the Kanzo. She was a powerful woman and brilliant filmmaker, not without her deep, painful contradictions. She was Jewish, born in the Ukraine, raised in Syracuse, NY. Dedicated to the drum, the image and to the tempest.

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