Phoenix Dance
Press Release

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For Immediate Release!
A heroic journey from loss to faith, trust and beauty
A new film by Karina Epperlein

Karina Epperlein

641 Euclid Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94708
Tel/Fax (510) 559-8892

The film “Phoenix Dance” shows us the beauty and strength of one individual who defies our expectations of what it means to be “disabled.” In March 2001, Homer Avila – who had been dancing with Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, and Mark Morris – discovered that the pain in his hip was cancer. One month later, his right leg and most of his hip were amputated. What unfolds is the story of the pas de deux called “Pas”, which the renowned Alonzo King choreographed for Homer, now missing one leg.

The film is an intimate poem, revealing that when heart and will are joined, the impossible happens. Through interviews, studio rehearsals, and theatre performances, we witness a deeply moving collaboration. Interdependence, trust, and the process of “strength-building” by overcoming challenges in life, come visually alive. These themes could not be expressed more poignantly than in a duet for a female and a male one-legged dancer. In their dance, a creature with three legs and four arms emerges. The traditional roles are reversed: the man's vulnerability and the woman's strength complement each other, sweetly. And in their solo outbursts they spur each other on to great heights. “For me a pas de deux is a microscopic look into relationship,” Alonzo King says in the film, “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.”

Three years after his amputation, Homer died on March 26, 2004 of re-occurring cancer in the lungs; he was 48. He had disclosed his decision to keep dancing and not go into treatment to only a few people. While Homer’s death did not affect the making of the film, it only made it more essential that his legacy live on. He spent the last three years of his life doing what he loved most: dancing – one-legged – on stages around the world in pieces choreographed for him not only by Alonzo King, but by Victoria Marks and Dana Casperson of the Frankfurt Ballet. The urgency in Homer’s dancing, rehearsing, traveling and lecturing was palpable. He inspired all who came in contact with him.

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