Dancer-turned-Documentarian Paul Michael Bloodgood Turns His Lens to the Making of Ballet Austin’s Gentle / The Holocaust & Humanity Venture

Paul Michael Bloodgood. Picture by Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Bloodgood.

No different ballet has formed Paul Michael Bloodgood’s life as a lot as Gentle / The Holocaust & Humanity Venture. He was a younger dancer who’d lately joined Ballet Austin when he turned a part of the bodily, academic and emotional course of to create this singular work and group dialogue with inventive director and choreographer Stephen Mills and Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren—whose testimony is on the coronary heart of the venture.

Forward of the ballet’s world premiere in 2005, Warren’s fellow survivor Elie Wiesel spoke in Austin. “Not everybody could make historical past. However it’s given to all of us to participate in it,” he mentioned. “And this, I imagine, is a minimum of one easy lesson that we draw from our tales: When individuals undergo, don’t sleep.”

Bloodgood had an opportunity to step into Gentle once more when it was restaged in 2012 and on tour to Israel the next yr. However as Ballet Austin prepares to carry out the work March 31–April 2, Bloodgood has retired from the stage and turned to filmmaking, embracing a second profession he’s no much less captivated with. His first feature-length movie, Trenches of Rock, informed the story of his father’s Christian steel band whose tour bus was the setting for a lot of his childhood. “I had all the time been informed, a minimum of on the subject of documentaries, begin with what you understand,” he says.

Now, he’s educated his lens on one other acquainted story and formative expertise with Discovering Gentle, a documentary that revisits the making of Gentle within the hopes of spreading its common themes—of hope and the safety of human rights within the face of hatred and bigotry—to a broader viewers.

a group of dancers wearing white, huddled on stage and looking down
Nonetheless from Discovering Gentle. Courtesy Bloodgood.
an elderly woman smiling at the camera , wearing a dark dress and pearl jewelry
Naomi Warren handed away in 2016. Picture by Hannah Neal, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

It’s positively a tribute to Naomi. As a result of, to paraphrase Stephen [Mills], her sharing her testimony was a present. And it was a fair larger present that she allowed Stephen to create this work.

When 9/11 occurred, I used to be feeling an absence of motive to be, when it comes to being a dancer. Entertaining individuals simply felt like a frivolous waste of time, fairly actually. And so what was my goal in life?

Gentle was the primary time in my profession—and actually one of many solely instances in my profession—the place I felt like I used to be part of one thing a lot bigger than myself. If you happen to communicate to me or every other one that was within the authentic solid, it’s nearly religious, the expertise that we had.

Not one of the authentic solid was of Jewish descent, neither is Stephen. So it turned: Why are we making this? Why us? And Naomi, her complete factor was: You will have this platform, so it’s essential use it. The themes of bigotry and hatred and injustice—that’s common.

This can be a dialog that now we have to maintain having, sadly. There’s all the time a motive for it. Although it’s Holocaust-based, that’s the underlying storyline. The common themes may be absolutely anything to do with injustice. In 2005, it was police brutality in Austin. In Pittsburgh, it was anti-Semitism once they carried out it.

My title Discovering Gentle—sure, it’s alluding to the ballet, and the way Stephen and Naomi primarily discovered Gentle, the ballet. However I like to consider it as we’re all seeking to discover mild on the planet.

We now have to continue learning from our previous. And the one approach we will study from our previous is to proceed speaking about it. We’re always passing the torch of the dialog.

dancers spread out on stage, squatting down sitting on their heels with their hands in their laps
Nonetheless from Discovering Gentle. Courtesy Bloodgood.

What do I would like individuals to remove from the movie? That artwork may be the instigator of dialog that may compel individuals to motion.

Within the movie, we discuss what we’re going to do when the survivors are now not with us. And a minimum of movie—so long as we do all of our correct backups—it’s immortalized. So now the movie can reside on indefinitely previous all of our lives, and that’s one thing you may’t do with ballet.

That is my present again to the dancers who carry out the work. For the primary time, there’s no person from the unique solid, and there are only some dancers within the firm who even had the possibility to fulfill Naomi. And so being able to share this movie permits them to get to know her and, in a approach, witness her testimony. It’s like permitting her presence and her spirit to be within the room. We now have to maintain her story alive. And that’s the place the movie ends—that we proceed.

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