Maybe It’s the Prosthetic Ears: Leonard Nimoy, Cinedance Muse

spiritbeeman
Andrea Beeman

Though he will always be best known as the logic-loving Vulcan on Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy has a new role these days: dance muse.

It all started back in 2002, when Nimoy published a book of photographs called Shekhina, a collection of black-and-white nudes based on the Kabbalistic belief in a female manifestation of God. As it turns out, the former Mr. Spock has quite a knack for photography — a lifelong pursuit he returned to with renewed zeal just a few years ago. (Of the versatile Nimoy’s many artistic endeavors beyond the realm of film and TV, this one seems to be the most successful; if you require proof, check out one of his early music videos.)

Elisa Monte was the first choreographer to find inspiration in Nimoy’s photos. Her dance piece Shekhina, based on his book, premiered in 2004. New York audiences will get another chance to see Nimoy’s work through a dance maker’s eyes this weekend, when cinedance pioneer Amy Greenfield premieres Spirit in the Flesh at — no kidding — the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space.

Spirit in the Flesh will share a program with Greenfield’s Club Midnight, a series of shorts about exotic dancers and strippers that, like Nimoy’s photos, insist that spirituality and sensuality are not mutually exclusive. “I just felt that his photos had so much to do with my films,” Greenfield told us. “It was the first thing that really related to my work. It continues to be a revelation.”

For Spirit in the Flesh, Greenfield combined Nimoy’s photos with live dance, music and spoken text from his book. “I soon realized that you can’t just stick photos on a screen,” she said, explaining that she used advanced video editing technology to create movement in the photographs. “It’s taking the photographs and the words from the book and bringing them to life through photo cinema. The dancers are wearing white material so you see the photographs on them, and the photos change as the dancers move.”

Greenfield told us that doing the project did not involve hanging out with Mr. Spock, though he gladly provided permission to use his photos. “I think he’s very happy to have me do it and not bother him,” she said. “He’s getting progress reports.”

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