There are no films like dance films. Dance is one of the few things that is inherently cinematic, especially when the camera moves, perhaps with energy.
Ballet on the other hand is not friendly to film, at least the classical Russian model. The choreography is designed to affect the patron sitting, watching from one perspective, slightly elevated. The Russian model, as well, depends on a worship of personality that depends an obsessive knowledge of tradition, what it means to conform and deviate in small ways made powerful by their constraints.
These two things are incompatible. We have only two great films of ballet that I know are “The Company” and “Red Shoes.” Yet I can’t stay away from films that try to deliver something. The promise is just too great. What we have here an attractive failure. Five ballerinas are shown, each one touted as unique, either in accomplishment or promise. They are, of course, attractive, incidentally redheads and predictably dull.
We have many interviews with mavens of the machine that maintains the art, the institutions of this art. They do their job by setting the necessary rigid constraints by celebrating the promise of these girls and women. We have frustratingly short snippets of performances and rehearsals. Every bit of it is too short to deliver something that matters. Every single shot is from a camera that announces itself as fixed, with pins as solid as the buildings we are shown that enclose the places that administer what is forbidden.
Still. It is dance, good dance. It has people that are serious about dance and some lovely motion. One thing is notable: seeing these dancers offstage. Dancers other than ballerinas have a natural grace in everything they do. Everything. Because ballet is such a refined, manufactured dance, these very pretty girls we see move in clumsy ways on the street — no overlap of grace.
Posted in 2009
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.