I have gone a couple of times to Oddball films since this event. The screening room is in the Mission (the disappearing, rapidly gentrifying Mission), not far from ODC dance studios, up an old switchback stairway in an old warehouse. You walk through rows and rows of 16mm "educational" films, sprinkled with odd episodes things like "Toast of the Town" with Ed Sullivan, all in neat stacks as far as you can see.
The screening room is in a back corner and the night of Mathilde Froustey's screening, Voulez-Vous Danser Avec Moi? (co-curated with Charles Redon), the tiny room was filled half with dancers from San Francisco Ballet and half with regular moviegoers.
At first I fell completely for the Alan Lomax film, with its beautiful ethnographic footage and its seductive idea that work movements, especially those involving movements of the feet like sowing and covering seeds and working wet clay on a spinning wheel, "naturally" evolved into dance movements. When the reassuring narrator's voice began to assure us that dancing on pointe derived from the downward foot pointing position of horsemen in stirrups – this is where the Lomax's idea seemed a bit dubious. Later I learned that these notions are considered very "grandiose" by anthropologists and ignore the ways dance developed as a language, with "lateral" contrasts and affinities to other steps and to other dances within a community.
But the real revelation of the night was the screening of a clip from a 1970 film showing Edward Villella doing a solo from Apollo. This completely blew away all other interpretations of the ballet I've seen.
Villella's Apollo is tightly presented, without an ounce of tenuousness – more like Prodigal Son or a pre-Diaghilev Meyerhold (Balanchine's teacher) Biometrics exercise, like "Throwing the Stone" or "Bow and Arrow." From the short scene, it seem like really another – and lost – ballet.
Most unfortunately the projector switched over to another clip just as a perfomance of Rubies was warming up.