MoMA's Film Festival for Endangered Dance Films


Chakiris, center, in West Side Story

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art holds a festival of film preservation each year, and this year’s event—called “To Save and Project: The 12th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation”—has a couple of rare dance offerings. It might be un-modern, but MoMA wants to make sure “endangered films,” as they call them, don’t disappear.

The first dance-centric event is about George Chakiris. You’ll know him as Bernardo in the film version of West Side Story, but he danced in several other movies, like 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (with Marilyn Monroe) and White Christmas in 1954. On Sunday, October 26, he and dance critic Debra Levine talk about his performance career and share rare clips.

A still from Madam Satan

The following night, Levine introduces Cecil B. DeMille’s 1930 musical Madam Satan. Get a load of this plot: There’s a hallucinatory ballet performed for a bunch of socialites in a blimp hovering over Central Park. In the rain. And the ballet features Ballet Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff, who’s dressed as “The Spirit of Electricity” with lightning bolts coming out of his head and hands. Sounds like something you don’t want to miss—even if you just have to see it to believe it.

Click here for ticket prices, policies and the rest of MoMA’s festival lineup.





Photos from top: courtesy MGM Studios/Park Circus; courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive

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