Phoenix Dance (1996)
16min · Documentary, Short · 6 January 1996
A heroic journey of transformation and healing, Phoenix Dance challenges our expectations of what it means to be "disabled." In March, 2001, renowned dancer Homer Avila discovered that the pain in his hip was cancer. A month later, his right leg and most of his hip were amputated. Through interviews, studio rehearsals, and performances, Phoenix Dance follows the evolution of Pas, a pas de deux created for Avila by choreographer Alonzo King. In a deeply moving and intimate collaboration with dancer Andrea Flores, Avila creates a new unity -- a beautiful creature with three legs and four arms -- in which traditional roles are reversed: the man's vulnerability and the woman's strength sweetly complement each other, and their solo outbursts develop themes of interdependence, trust, and strength. "For me," Alonzo King says in the film, "a pas de deux is a microscopic look into relationship, and relationship could mean you with yourself...It could mean a part of you that's dying. It could be you and your God, you and nature... wherever there is two negotiating or becoming one, or struggling." When his cancer recurred, Homer told only a few friends that he was going to forego treatment in order to continue the life he loved -- dancing.