Release Date: October 26th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by Zeitgeist Films.
Directed by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the history of Ballet Russe.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Many colorful dance numbers fill this lively documentary, but the most engaging parts are the interviews with the dancers, now in their golden years. When the founder of the Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo died in 1931, another company called the Original Ballet Russe started to compete with it. The evolution of the dances are very interesting: at one point, they ballerinas dance to classical music, which was never done before and which critics loathed. Nonetheless, it still continued on because audiences loved every minute of it. The dancers, such as Dame Alicia Markova, George Balanchine, and Irina Baronova, describe their training with many details, especially about their choreographer. One choreographer turned out to be a perfectionist as well when she paid attention to small things like what direction the foot turns when the legs leap. In a humorous scene, a dancer describes an American choreographer’s training when the dance company toured the United States: not only was there a language barrier, but when she combined folk dancing with ballet, it just seemed wrong on so many levels. It's amazing how many of these dancers were barely 13 when they were part of the Ballet Russe--their talent is undeniable. In one scene, the dancers describe a two-week adventure as their ship sailed to America in rough waters. The same day that they arrived in New York City, they immediately had to go on stage to dance. Ballet Russes succeeds in painting a vivid picture of the Ballet Russe also because you're aware of what they did for the rest of their lives--dancing certainly wasn't just a one-time thing for them. Moreover, this film does an excellent job of portraying not only the level of skill that it takes to dance, but how its poetic beauty is an essential and long-lasting part of culture.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The dancers' passion truly shows in their eyes and in the way they talk even many years after they were in the Ballet Russe. One of the dancers admits that they received very small pay, but if you count the spiritual benefits of dancing, then they would be very rich. They continued to follow their footsteps to the beat of their heart, but what's even more inspiring is that they spread their love to other passionate young dancers by dedicating their time to teach them the art of ballet.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
THE BOTTOM LINE: Lively and inspiring with breathtaking, unforgettable dance numbers.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "B" Menu