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LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET

Director: FREDERICK WISEMAN

159 minutes| France-U.S.A.| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema Notes by Trevor Johnston


This film was released 30th April 2010 and is no longer screening.

From the talent and application of individual dancers and choreographers to the infrastructure of a venerable Parisian institution, this expansive portrait surveys the totality of presenting world-class ballet to an adoring public.

For the past four decades, Fred Wiseman, the dean of American documentarists, has specialised in allowing the audience the status of invisible observer watching the process of others going about their lives, and here as usual he forgoes captioning and direct-to-camera interviews to give reality to us straight up. The result is compellingly immersive, detailing the day-to-day micro-crises inevitably shaping the fortunes of any large ballet company, yet also encouraging our appreciation of the sheer toil involved in honing physical grace to a fine point of finesse. We see sections of the finished performances, from a classic Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker, or Casse-noisette in French) to a joltingly bloody modern interpretation of Medea, though the ultimate joy of the film is in its wise perception of the bigger picture.

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