April 05, 2008

The Jock Soto story

Navajo ballet star showcased by PBS

'Water Flowing Together' film tells Jock Soto's inspiring storyTo create the movie, which is named after Soto's Navajo clan, Cates shot some 120 hours of film, following Soto as he rehearsed for his last appearance and traveled to the Navajo reservation and Puerto Rico to reconnect with relatives he hadn't seen in many years. She captured his determination, ambivalence and occasional despair as he prepared to let go of his identity as star of one of the world's most prominent ballet companies.

Cates also included images from Soto's childhood growing up near Chinle, Ariz., traveling with his family to pow wows, Hoop dancing and, after seeing ballet on "The Ed Sullivan Show," studying at a Phoenix studio. Segments on his earliest years in New York showed him with the New York City Ballet's celebrated founder and choreographer, George Balanchine, who invited Soto to join the company at just 16 years of age.
Reactions to the film:"So many people have greeted the film with such warmth and enthusiasm," Cates said. "I was hoping Jock's story would be accessible in that way. That's why I was so pleased about the public television showing, which brought it to an even broader audience."

Soto has been touched by Native people's reactions to the film.

"At a Navajo Nation showing, a kid stood up and thanked me for bringing my story to their attention. He said, 'We didn't know about you, and we're so proud.' A little girl--she must have been 8 or 9--came up to me and told me she took ballet classes." During the question-and-answer period after the Santa Fe showing, a Native woman in the front row began crying, Soto reported. "I gave her a hug," he said.

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