Maya Deren, Talley Beatty 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.
Object number

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


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).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

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


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