: Albert Maysles
: Kristen Nutile
: Tanja Meding
Photo(left) by Eileen Travell
Sally Gross – The Pleasure of Stillness is an intimate portrait about the life and work of critically acclaimed dancer and choreographer Sally Gross. Called “the most poetic of minimalist modern-dance choreographers” by New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning, Sally Gross has been dancing for more than fifty years. This film will give the audience an insight into the life and creative process of a true New York artist who has been involved in a number of groundbreaking art movements over the last 50 years, which still continue to influence artists today.
What inspired you to make this piece?
: As both a still photographer and cinematographer, the stillness of Sally Gross' dance sort of falls between still photograph and the motion picture - enough movement to be filmed with a motion picture camera and still enough for the viewer to be all the more engaged with something that moves so little. So it gave me the opportunity to exercise both of my talents.
: I had been attending Sally Gross’ dance performances and I found her work to be very intriguing and beautiful. So, when producer Tanja Meding approached me to collaborate on this film with Albert Maysles, I jumped at the chance. I had previously collaborated with Albert on another piece, and thought this would be a great project. Both Sally and Albert are very inspiring people.
Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
: I used a Sony PD-170 in PAL, for my camera. And for the editing, we used Final Cut Pro. I worked in my usual fashion, in a direct cinema style, observing and not controlling the activities of those whom I was filming.
: As an editor, I tried to cut the film in a way that would showcase Sally’s work. One way of doing this was by using long takes.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
: One of the dancers, Tanja Meding, is the one who introduced me to Sally. Fortunately, Tanja was someone who had already been working with me as an associate producer.
: I was amazed at how Tanja Meding was able to continually uncover incredible archival footage of Sally and New York City. She helped one of Sally’s friends rummage through his basement to find black and white footage of Sally dancing on the steps of the New York Public Library. The footage hadn’t been viewed since the 1960s. On a different note, we finished the film the same week that I gave birth to my daughter!
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
: When I was 28, I moved to New York in order to make films here. It's the best place for me to work as a documentary filmmaker. The talent, the opportunities for financing and distribution are here. In my own experience, the subject matter for films oftentimes are located here. I've made five films, including the latest, The Gates, with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, both of whom are based here in New York. The Gates, of course, took place in New York's Central Park.
: In general, my work is very inspired by New York. Unfortunately I don’t have the words to describe why - which is probably why I make films. During the making of this film, I had the wonderful opportunity to learn more about New York City through Sally Gross. Sally was born and raised in the Lower East Side and studied dance at the Henry Street Settlement with Alwin Nikolais. She became part of the legendary Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s and now in her seventies, she continues to perform in New York City every year.
What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?
: I've been most inspired by the nature of documentary as practiced in a direct cinema style, which I find to be a serendipitous adventure into life itself.
: Albert Maysles, of course! I have been a great admirer of his work for many years and it was such a thrill to collaborate with him. I am also very inspired by the films of Michelle Lippitt. Her work is stunning.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
To purchase "Sally Gross" and for more info, contact Producer, Tanja Meding email@example.com
For more info on Albert Maysles
: Amazon.com distributes most of my work. For more information, call Laura at Maysles Films, 343 Lenox Avenue, here in New York. The phone number is 212-582-6050. Also, there is much more information on the website www.mayslesfilms.com
. Included in the website are descriptions of upcoming films in the making and mention of my book of still photographs entitled A Maysles Scrapbook
, recently published, and available on amazon.com.