PAS DE TROIS

(1964/2006, 16mm, b&w/sound, 8 minutes)
Directed by Dean Stockwell
Edited by Bruce Conner


"PAS DE TROIS (1964/2006) is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Bruce Conner’s BREAKAWAY (1966), a dance film he made in collaboration with Toni Basil. Filmed by actor Dean Stockwell in late 1964, and then edited by Bruce Conner in 2006, the footage seen in PAS DE TROIS shows Conner and Basil during their first shoot for BREAKAWAY, in the apartment of a young curator named Jim Eliot, who lived above the merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier. Conner’s camera yielded very little viable footage during this initial 1964 session—just the two split-second shots seen in the closing moments of BREAKAWAY, which he continued filming and editing over the next two years. Nevertheless, Stockwell’s footage provides a unique first-hand view of the convivial spirit that fueled Conner and Basil’s collaboration. We see the filmmaker and dancer dipping and diving in tandem against a black backdrop, interspersed with more relaxed moments between takes where they chat, laugh, and dance together. The footage provides rare glimpses of Conner holding the camera and of his idiosyncratic style of dancing, where he shuffled from side to side and alternately lifted each leg. As a three-way cinematic “dance” between Conner, Basil, and Stockwell’s camera, PAS DE TROIS is a rare document of the catalytic encounter between choreography and camera that would ultimately result in BREAKAWAY."

– Johanna Gosse, Art and Film Historian