“Martha Clarke: Light and Dark” portrays an artist’s imaginative sources, and the process through which she creates an original evening of theatrical dance. The film departs from traditional dance films by looking behind finished performance to its imaginative sources and the process by which performance grows. A member of Pilobolus Dance Theater since 197, Martha Clarke left the Company to develop a more openly theatrical evening of her own. Her work is hard to pin down, drawing from modern dance, mime, the traditional clown’s repertoire, and form paintings. It is often comic, yet with a pathos wholly original to her own make-up as an artist. Filmmaker Joyce Chopra and Martha Clarke worked together for over one year, filming Martha and her collaborators at her studio. In this way they were able to follow the development of four new dance pieces and the hard work of refining, rehearsing and then learning from audiences. All is interwoven with the remarkable setting in Connecticut where she lives with her family, surrounded by turkeys, peacocks, goats, etc., from whose faces she has learned to mime some of her choicest comedy. Intercut are books, pictures, sketches by beloved artists, masks and dresses – all seen to convey Martha’s constant search for images that will cut deeply, moving or amusing people to their core. Martha Clarke’s work is about loneliness, about being a woman, about being an animate creature, about the strangeness of performance itself. A Film by Joyce Chopra and Martha Clarke.
Release Year: 1981
54 minutes • Color