'The 'Almost Lost' Art of Musical Saw'
"Natalia Paruz, a musician in New York City, used to be a dancer. Her dance career was cut short by tragedy; on her way home from the Lincoln Center years ago, she was hit by a taxi cab. "I suffered permanent damage to my upper spine," she told Gothamist in 2008. "Needless to say, I was devastated." After the accident, Paruz found solace and artistic satisfaction on a trip to Europe, where she watched a musical saw performance. It changed her life, as filmmaker Jenny Schweitzer shows in this short documentary. "When you play it, the whole instrument moves. It just seemed like dance to me," Paruz told her. Now, with nearly 20 years of experience as the "Saw Lady" of the city, Paruz has performed on stage, on television, on film, and on radio. Her music is available for purchase on her website. This is the fourth film in a series about New York's subway musicians." -Chris Heller, THE ATLANTIC
This is an episode from RHYTHM IN MOTION, a series of short films about New York's subway musicians.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Directed, produced, shot, and edited by Jenny Schweitzer
The films were created in collaboration with the MTA’s arts division, MTA Arts & Design, and in association with Killer Content (Still Alice, Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing podcast) and Cinelan (FOCUS FORWARD Short Films, Big Ideas and WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford To Miss).
New York City subway buskers are a well-documented bunch. It is not unusual to witness a sea of iphones capturing those random performances as we scurry to our trains. Since arriving in NYC in the late-90’s, I, too, have marveled at them, mesmerized by this inimitable cast of characters. All the time, I have wondered what drove these performers underground. For me, these musicians serve as an essential thread woven into the great culture that forms our vibrant city.
It was difficult to develop the first pieces. Having been approached by filmmakers on so many occasions, the musicians initially were skeptical of me. My objective in making these films was to give these gifted people the opportunity to reveal a hidden aspect of who they are and to voice their artistic message. While the musicians' talent and performances serve as the framework for each film, for me, the allure lies beneath the music. The films peek into their arresting and deeply personal stories.
In 1987 the Metropolitan Transit Authority created Music Under New York to offer musicians access to coveted, high traffic spots in the subway system and to assure the commuters a high level of artistic accomplishment. An annual, highly selective public audition in Grand Central Station invites newcomers to the roster.
More than 350 individual performers participate in more than 7,500 performances throughout the transit system annually. Rhythm in Motion profiles ten members from the Music Under New York roster.
For me, collaborating with Music Under New York was a critical step in moving forward with the project. It was deeply important that this vital organization value what my films could reveal about their network of musicians and this slice of NYC culture. -Jenny Schweitzer