By Karina Epperlein
2006 Academy Awards, Documentary Short List
A heroic journey of transformation and healing, Phoenix Dance challenges our expectations of what it means to be "disabled." In March, 2001, renowned dancer Homer Avila discovered that the pain in his hip was cancer. A month later, his right leg and most of his hip were amputated.
Through interviews, studio rehearsals, and performances, Phoenix Dance follows the evolution of Pas, a pas de deux created for Avila by choreographer Alonzo King. In a deeply moving and intimate collaboration with dancer Andrea Flores, Avila creates a new unity a beautiful creature with three legs and four arms in which traditional roles are reversed: the man's vulnerability and the woman's strength sweetly complement each other, and their solo outbursts develop themes of interdependence, trust, and strength.
"For me," Alonzo King says in the film, "a pas de deux is a microscopic look into relationship, and relationship could mean you with yourself...It could mean a part of you that's dying. It could be you and your God, you and nature... wherever there is two negotiating or becoming one, or struggling."
When his cancer recurred, Homer told only a few friends that he was going to forego treatment in order to continue the life he loved dancing. Both 16 and 22 minute versions are included.
Purchase $225.00 DVD
Order No. QA-462
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-862-6
"Deeply inspirational." The New York Times
"This extraordinary film draws a wonderful portrait of the late, great Homer Avila, an icon of American contemporary dance." Toronto Globe and Mail
"One of those rare poignant films that touches the very depths of the soul and dwells within." Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
"Unsentimental and deeply moving. Reveals Avila's unwavering strength, as well as his tender and playful nature, in the face of reinventing himself." Dance Magazine
"I was blown away. Not only is it an amazing story but the dancing, filming and editing are gorgeous." Deirdre McGrath, Community Resources for Independence
"Not a lamentation or a ploy to evoke sympathy from the audience, the film transcends Avila's story and speaks to the meaning of true artistry." eclpse.livejournal.com
Awards & Conference Screenings
Selected for Documentary Short List, Academy Awards
Special Achievement, Isadora Duncan Dance Award
Premiere, Dance on Camera Festival, Lincoln Center
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International
Official Selection, IDA DocuWeek Showcase
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Superfest International Disability Film Festival,
International Ballet Festival of Miami
Cinedans International, Amsterdam
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Heartland Film Festival
Nashville Film Festival
...and many others
Left In Baghdad: After being discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a happy-go-lucky American soldier returns with his wife and daughter to their home in Kentucky.
Outsider: Judith Scott has Down syndrome, is deaf, and does not speak. Yet after 35 years of institutionalization, with the help of a sister who never gave up on her, she emerged to create a series of sculptures that have fascinated and mystified art experts and collectors around the world.
Acting Blind: Takes audiences behind the scenes as a company of non-professional actors rehearse a play about life without sight. The performers have no problem imagining themselves in these roles: they are blind themselves.
We Are PHAMALy: Follows cast members of a musical theater group for people with sensory and mobility disabilities, from auditions to their remarkable opening night performance of Once Upon a Mattress.
Vital Signs: An edgy, raw documentary exploring the politics of disability through performances at a national conference on disability and the arts. Open-Captioned. Contains strong language and nudity.