WATER FLOWING TOGETHER (Gwendolen Cates) Rating: NNNN
Retired New York City Ballet principal dancer Jock Soto's Navajo name is Water Flowing Together, and it's to director Gwendolen Cates's credit that she doesn't resort to filming that image in this wonderful feature doc. But it's still a fitting metaphor for her subject's multi-dimensional life.
Born to a Navajo mother and a Puerto Rican father, Soto grew up in New Mexico some 40 years ago, where he learned to hoop dance at age three and realized he wanted to dance ballet after seeing a sequence on The Ed Sullivan Show. A decade later, he would be working for George Balanchine, become one of the most sought-after partners in the ballet world and count Andy Warhol as one of his close friends.
Cates follows Soto as he prepares to retire from the stage, sprinkling in stories by NYCB luminaries Peter Martins, Heather Watts and Wendy Whelan.
The footage of Soto dancing always reinforces what the subjects are saying, and the film leads fluidly to his climactic farewell performances.
Adding texture and emotion are the interviews with Soto's down-to-earth parents, nomads who travelled the country in an RV and barely saw their son after he moved to Manhattan as a teenager. Soto himself has some of their unpretentious style, and emerges in interviews and in his moving trips back to their respective homes as a class act.
Screens tonight (Thursday, October 18) at the Al Green Theatre as part of the ImagineNative Film Festival.