Wonder what became of Douglas Wright, a star Paul Taylor dancer in the ’80s? One day, at the peak of his work with Taylor, he lay down on the grass in Washington Square Park and realized he needed to go home, back to Auckland, New Zealand, where nature, as well as culture, could feed his creative spirit. Leann Pooley’s 75-minute documentary follows this artist, now 47, from the moments in his childhood that marked him as “different” (he wanted to dance, a decision frowned upon by his father), through his obsession with Nijinsky, to his current life as an HIV-positive choreographer recently retired from the stage. The details are intimate, the imagery suggestive (in the film’s opening shot we see a man in spasm, with a candle where his penis might be).
“I don’t want people to know all this about me at all. I want to share my work with people . . . and it seems that there has to be a kind of metaphorical pound of flesh that you have to pay to get that,” he says. Haunting Douglas incorporates readings from Wright’s new novel, Ghost Dance, coming this year from Penguin.