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Water Flowing TogetherJock Soto


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#1 printscess

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 07:09 PM

I had looked forward to this evening with great anticipation. The film did not disappoint. The theater was filled up to the 3rd ring.

I loved every minute of it. I was with both of my sons: a ballet dancer who was a student of Jock and my high school sophmore who could care less about ballet. My 10th grader couldn't say enough about the movie. This film will appeal to different audiences on different levels.

Surprisingly, it started as a love letter to his parents, thanking them for sending him at the age of 14 to SAB, before there were dorms and before there was a staff overseeing the out of town students, where they were on their own to fend for themselves. It turned out to be much more.

It was a loving tribute to a man who has been a incredible talent and a major mentor to the up and coming male students at SAB. The film showed Jock the person as opposed to Jock the "super-star". It was a very human, sensitive, FUNNY, sarcastic side that we saw.

I was overcome once again (tears and all) when clips of his final performance was shown in the movie as I was seating @ the NYS Theater June 19, 2005.

The film will be shown on PBS, April 9th 2008 in a condensed version, and January 11 and 18th at the Walter Reed Theater which is right next door to SAB.

#2 carbro

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 08:13 PM

The theater was filled up to the 3rd ring.

I must have gotten there after you, printscess. While I found a 3R seat, they were sending folks upstairs to the 4th. Your younger son's reaction is very interesting -- a testament to both Jock's personality and Cates' filmmaking skill.

It is a very moving document. We get to meet Jock's parents, Papa Joe and Mama Jo. When asked afterwards if his parents had seen the film, Jock replied, "Yes. My father thought he was the star." It was p-r-e-t-t-y close. :clapping:

This is Gwendolyn Cates' first venture into filmmaking. The end result is clearly a labor of love. There's more than beginner's luck here. Her ability to intertwine Jock's career -- from his student days at SAB through his final bows, to his work as a teacher and other post-performing undertakings (shhhh!) -- through his family roots on both sides, and lots of rehearsing and performing. Peter Martins contributes his appreciations, and we have comments from partners including Whelan, Kistler, Watts, Lopez, Weese and Melinda Roy.

Around age 30, after his primary partner Heather Watts retired, Soto suffered a torn calf muscle that took two years to fully heal. What many of us didn't know is that at this juncture of crisis and loss, Soto seriously considered leaving ballet. What a gift to his audience (and his subsequent partners, especially Whelan) that he didn't!

One incident I can't resist telling. Jock related that as a young boy, he was advised by his dad not to talk about his ballet lessons in school. Then, one day a photo of young Jock appeared in the newspaper when he was in a Christmastime performance. When he went to school the next day, someone had written on the blackboard, "Jock is a sissy." As he relates it, the pain is fresh on his face. Then, after a pause he looks at the camera and says, "Little did they know that Jock really was a sissy!" and beams.

Check your PBS listings for Independent Lens, and if you can, catch it in its Dance on Film screening at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, Jan. 11 and 18. If you are a Jock fan, you'll love it; if you weren't especially a Jock fan, you'll become one. A very affecting work.

#3 Victor5678

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 11:23 PM

Especially subtle (and brilliant) were the clips that revealed the differentiation of the partnerships that Jock had at NYCB. Seeing him partner was a lesson in how well he brought out the unique qualities in each ballerina. A very moving film overall.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:18 AM

The film contrasts life in New York City, where Jock hobnobbed with the likes of Andy Warhol, to that on the reservation (lots of imposing scenery), where not much ever happened. Jock preferred the big city and, as a consequence, stayed away from his Arizona roots for something like twenty years. I wish the film had gotten into a little more detail about that and about why he finally returned and reunited with his extended family.

Life as a star of NYCB was not all glamor by any means. There is a somewhat startling sequence where toward the end of his dancing days, Jock is reduced to tears contemplating his numerous aches and pains, injuries and infirmities. I was reminded of the 1968 documentary, "Man Who Dances," about Edward Villella.

Having done nothing else in his life, Jock was eager to do something different from ballet. His great achievement was to graduate from the Culinary Institute of New York. In the scene where he holds up his graduation certificate, the audience at the State Theater broke into heartfelt applause.
But ballet is still the dominant part of Jock's life. He is a full-time teacher at SAB, and no sooner had he retired, than Peter Martins prevailed upon him to portray Capulet in his production of Romeo + Juliet.

We all might wish for greater emphasis on this or that aspect of Jock's life and career, but the film is well-worth seeing no matter where one is coming from. A special treat for the audience at the State Theater was that it was introduced by Wendy Whelan, who received a tumuluous and prolonged ovation.

#5 printscess

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 10:57 AM

What I specifically like about the movie is that you saw a regular guy who just happen to have extraordinary dancer, not a prima dona. He puts his tights on one leg at a time (just like we all wished we did).


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