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BALLETS RUSSES

Director: DANIEL GELLER, DAYNA GOLDFINE.

U.S.A. • 2005. COLOUR • DOLBY STEREO • 118 MIN.


HISTORY WOULD SUGGEST THAT BALLET FEUDS ARE LESS LIKELY TO RESULT IN GUNFIRE THAN HIP-HOP BATTLES. HOWEVER, BALLETS RUSSES REVEALS THAT THE WORLD OF DANCE IS NOT ALL TUTUS AND SUGAR PLUM FAIRIES.
Combining a glorious trove of archival footage and lively interviews with such icons as Dame Alicia Markova, Irina Baronova and Frederick Franklin, Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s documentary details a juicy tale of jealousy, rivalries and clashing egos. Rescuing the ballet from the stuffy airs of high culture, Geller and Goldfine present the art form when it was vibrant, vital and anything but assured of its status. Even viewers who would rate their interest in ballet between little and nil should be enthralled.
That said, it’s a good idea to pay close attention because this saga can be awfully complicated. For one thing, two companies would claim the name of Ballet Russe. The original was founded in Paris by Sergei Diaghilev in 1909. After Diaghilev died in 1929, the company came under the control of Colonel Wassily de Basil. Dancer-choreographer Leonid Massine broke from de Basil in 1938, starting an
American-financed competitor. The fate of both companies was dramatically influenced by the outbreak of WWII, which forced them to ply their trade in largely untrammelled territory: America. Thankfully, there was no exchange of gunfire between any of the battling impresarios or the ballerinas who vied for supremacy in the individual companies. Moreover, any bad blood seems very much a thing of the past for the
performers, many of whom passed away not long after they were interviewed.—Jason Anderson/’The Eye’.

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