Will You Dance for Me, 2011.
HD film for dual-channel projection (color, sound) 13:45 minutes.
Courtesy of the Pizzuti Collection.
“Will you dance for me?” is less an invitation than a demand. When the Auschwitz guards caught Yehudit Arnon entertaining her fellow prisoners with acrobatics, they requested her performance at their Christmas party. When she refused, they forced her to stand for hours, barefoot in the falling snow. Resolved to devote herself to her passion, she survived to found a preeminent modern dance company. When, in 2011, Gersht attempted to direct her in this film, Arnon again refused to play a passive role. At the end of an unsuccessful day of shooting, she requested creative control over the final take. What ensued was a deeply intimate performance—a dance only for herself.
Slowly, Arnon raises fingertips to her forehead, lifts her face to the light, brushes a shoulder against her yielding cheek. Age and osteoporosis confine her to a chair, but her face, head and hands wield expressive force. As she rocks on the chair, her face slips in and out of the light, lost at times in the inky void. Her head recedes into deep space, shadows reducing it to its essential, skull-like form. Opposite her, snow falls on desiccated sunflower stalks, eliciting the muffled memory of trials past.
–Virginia McBride ’15
Gund Gallery Associate