The first of our two-part celebration of dancer-turned-filmmaker Shirley Clarke! See related program Shirley Clarke: In Our Time.

In Paris for the Cinematheque screening of Portrait of Jason, Shirley Clarke was filmed for French television program Cinéastes de notre temps (Cinéastes of Our Time) in a friend’s apartment during a small gathering held in her honor (among the guests are Yoko Ono and Jacques Rivette). She speaks candidly about the “underground cinema,” its relationship to the politics of protest happening around the U.S., and its negation of Hollywood aesthetics. Clarke see the U.S. heading to a certain crisis point—hence the title, Rome is Burning—and wonders aloud about the responsibility of filmmakers in such a situation.

Screening with:
In Paris Parks 
Shirley Clarke | 1954 | USA | 12m
Clarke captured the daily rhythm of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris with a documentary quality and a playful sense of humor that perfectly suits the Punch and Judy show performed for a rapt audience. The music is a calliope of sound that provides a transition from scene to scene. This iconic French park is one for both adults and children and sometimes recalls the errant spirit of Jacques Tati. Music by Lanoue Davenport.

Dance in the Sun
Shirley Clarke | 1953 | USA | 6m
Clarke performed as a modern dancer before she made this first film. She chose for her first try Daniel Nagrin’s “Dance in the Sun,” photographing the artist performing his dance at Jones Beach on Long Island. Discovering that nature overwhelmed the dancer’s movements, she sought to preserve the integrity of the dance while attaining a cinematic dimension. So she devised a simple method—intercutting between the exterior dance by the sea and the interior of the rehearsal hall. Nagrin leaps from the shore and lands on a studio floor, a graceful effect now quite common in commercials and films, but then cinematically bold.

A Moment in Love
Shirley Clarke | 1957 | USA | 8m

Rather than one unbroken motion in space as in Dance in the Sun, here Clarke shoots double images of the same movement—sometime placed in different parts of the frame, sometimes with a slight time delay—effectively using them to create an intensity of mood and tension in the passionate relationship of two young lovers. This is a beautiful experiment in cinedance in which dreams and fantasies become visual realities through the magic of the camera. Choreographed by Anna Sokolow to music by Norman Lloyd. Performed by Carmen Gutierrez (subject of the film A Girl from Mexico) and modern dance legend Paul Sanasardo.