Life of a dancer: documentary prompts discussion on diversity in dance

Life of a dancer: documentary prompts discussion on diversity in dance

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The Blue Door Theatre is usually a host to plays and live performances put on by Lane’s Arts Department. That pattern was shaken up on Friday, Jan. 8, when a projecton screen was pulled down in front of the stage for a free-admission screening of “Afternoon of a Faun.”

The small theatre was packed with dozens of audience members, whose silence could only be read as captivation by director Nancy Buirski’s documentary on the life of renowned ballet dancer Tanaquil LeClercq.

LeClercq was stricken with a very serious case of polio during the height of her career. Though this effectively ended her career as a dancer, she went on to teach at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

“We’re talking about an extremely high level of dance performance ability, of technique, everything,” Alito Alessi, artistic director of DanceAbility, said. “I think that sort of idea of a person like her going through this transformation and returning to who and how she was before something happened to her is really interesting.”

Having received a grant to screen the film without an admission fee, the filmmakers were able to team up with organizations such as DanceAbility and Eugene Ballet Company to host the event.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with other dance organizations locally and co-present it together, and to have another avenue to share about the different stories that can happen in dance,” Sara Zolbrod, managing director of DanceAbility, said.

After the screening, audience members were invited to stay for a Q-and-A session led by the organizers of the event. They discussed the importance of inclusiveness and diversity in the dance community, specifically when it comes to dancers with disabilities.

“I love The Blue Door [Theatre]. A Friday night at seven is great, I also appreciate the chance to have a question-and-answer period after,” Sarah Ebert, audience member and local dancer, said.

Though there was no admission fee, audience members were encouraged to donate to DanceAbility, an organization dedicated to bringing dance to anyone regardless of ability.

“Everybody can dance,” Zolbrod said. “Dancing comes from the inside as a human expression.”

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