(San Francisco, CA)—Poignant and revealing, WATER FLOWING TOGETHER tells the story of one of the most influential modern ballet dancers—New York City Ballet’s Jock Soto. The debut film by acclaimed photographer Gwendolen Cates, WATER FLOWING TOGETHER will have its broadcast premiere on the Emmy Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, at 10pm (check local listings).
Called “one of ballet’s most creative personalities” by The New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff, Soto graced the stage of the New York State Theater for an amazing 24 years, partnering with such great ballerinas as Heather Watts, Darci Kistler and Wendy Whelan. When we meet Soto in WATER FLOWING TOGETHER, he is 40 and facing the daunting prospect of retiring from the only life he has ever known or desired.
Soto was born on the Navajo Indian reservation in 1965, to a Navajo mother and a Puerto Rican father. And at that time and in that place, ballet dancing for boys was virtually unheard of. Following in the footsteps of his mother, he first learned to hoop dance, a complex traditional American Indian dance, which provided an early foundation for his talent. He fell in love with ballet at the age of five after seeing Edward Villella on television, and his surprised but supportive parents drove him constantly to classes. Soto excelled, eventually becoming one of the last dancers to be personally selected by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet, achieving his dream when he was barely 16. He soon became a child of the New York City arts scene, in the process befriending Andy Warhol and finding his way as a gay man.
In WATER FLOWING TOGETHER (the title is the name of Soto’s Navajo clan), Cates follows a contemplative Soto as he rehearses for his farewell performance, tries to imagine his future, and travels to the Navajo reservation and Puerto Rico to reconnect with his heritage. Soto’s relationship to his roots is one of both detachment and devotion, defying stereotypes in the same way that his powerful, fluid dancing transcends the expected. Told through the words of Soto, his parents and his dance colleagues, WATER FLOWING TOGETHER is a moving, candid and inspiring portrait of an artist and a man at the crossroads of his life.
To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the companion website for WATER FLOWING TOGETHER at Independent Lens online pbs.org/independentlens/waterflowingtogether/. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions.
About the Filmmaker
Gwendolen Cates is an award-winning photographer, author and filmmaker. She is the author and photographer of Indian Country (Grove Press, 2001), which was selected as one of the top 10 illustrated books of the year by USA Today and was featured on Oprah. Over the course of Cates’s 20-year career, her photographs have been published as covers and features in such major publications as PARADE, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, GQ, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Time and People. She has photographed innumerable celebrities and public figures, including George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Crow, Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. WATER FLOWING TOGETHER is her first cinematic project. Her next film, which is currently in production, is Mourning in the Garden of Eden, about the cultural destruction of Iraq during the current war. A native New Yorker who attended the University of Chicago, Cates resides in Manhattan.
About Jock Soto
Jock Soto, who is half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, was born in Gallup, New Mexico, in 1965 and was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. At the age of five, he began studying ballet with the local teachers after seeing a television special featuring Edward Villella in the “Rubies” section of George Balanchine’s Jewels. Soto continued his studies at the School of American Ballet beginning in 1977. In 1981, at age 16, he became a member of the New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet; he was one of the last dancers to be personally selected by George Balanchine. In June 1984, he was promoted to the rank of Soloist, and one year later he was named Principal. After an acclaimed 24-year performing career, he retired from dancing in June 2005.
Soto’s extensive repertoire at New York City Ballet included featured roles in many works by George Balanchine. He inspired the creation of roles in numerous ballets during his career, working with choreographers Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon, Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Richard Tanner.
Soto was the recipient of the Casita Maria Award for Hispanics, the First American in the Arts Trustee Award and the Dance Magazine Award. The Friends in Deed recognized him for his patronage of AIDS research, and in 2002, the School of American Ballet presented him with the Mae L. Wein Award for Distinguished Service. Soto joined the permanent faculty of the School of American Ballet in 1996 and continues to teach there. Cooking is his other passion, and he has started a catering company with his partner, chef Luis Fuentes.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award–winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about unique individuals, communities and moments in history. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
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