Maya Deren. A Study in Choreography for Camera. 1945

Maya Deren A Study in Choreography for Camera 1945

  • Not on view

Upon their appearance in the mid-1940s, Maya Deren's films were described by New York Times dance critic John Martin as "choreocinema," a happy neologism that attempted to account for two of Deren's thematic preoccupations: the human body in motion and the filmmaking process itself. Her first two films, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and At Land (1944), began this endeavor (if only partially), but it was in her third project, Study in Choreography for Camera, that Deren fully realized her vision of freeing the human body from the confines of theatrical—and actual—space. In Study, a dancer (Talley Beatty) moves effortlessly within and between different environments (forest, living room, museum gallery, etc.), an achievement arrived at through the careful matching of his precisely choreographed movements with the film's editing pattern. As Beatty leaps from space to space across Deren's film splices, a new geographical reality is created, one where great distances can be covered within the span of just four minutes. Beatty's disciplined performance never betrays the difficulties that he and his director must have overcome to attain so fluid a result. Deren's camera, in effect, becomes Beatty's partner.

Publication excerpt from Steven Higgins, Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 199.
16mm film (black and white, silent)
3 min.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Object number

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to