Classical Ballet In Movies – Breaking Pointe Shoes

I am enthused after seeing a trailer about a new television series about classical ballet. “Breaking Pointe”, premiering on the CW May 31st, looked promising to me until I found out it is a new reality show. Uh oh! I am wondering how the subcultural world of classical ballet will be spun for tv viewers. What is there to spin? Lots, I am afraid. Yet, this reminded me about the movies in pointe shoes that I have loved, and I am hoping that this new reality show does not denigrate classical ballet.

This show will be behind the scenes with Ballet West from Salt Lake City of which Adam Sklute is the current artistic director.

This is a long-successful ballet company, founded in 1963 by William F. Christensen, also the artistic director. A professional well-travelled ballet company. So this show will be well beyond dancing in pointe shoes and the blisters and bleeding toes which classical ballet dancers know exactly how to avoid.

Typically, ballet is filmed for movies or television in live performances for the big works like Swan Lake or Le Corsair, with the audience, orchestra, and dancers producing palpable excitement. Sweat flies, audiences gasp, laugh and cry, and explode into spontaneous applause at the balletic prowess displayed.

There have been professional documentaries made about ballet schools, ballet training, or specific dancers. Here are a few I have enjoyed:

Ballets Russes is a lovingly made documentary using historical footage, and interviews with some of the dancers in that footage, aged into their 80’s and 90’s at the time of the production, 2005. Michael Fokine was the Chief Choreographer of the company, serving as artistic director.

The Dancer,  a documentary that may entertain a smaller group of ballet fans, as it is focused on the training of a group of students at The Royal Swedish Ballet School. It is mostly in English, with a few shots in Swedish with English subtitles. Ballet parents will love this sensitive and artistic film, and so will their aspiring dancing daughters and sons.

La Danse – Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris is a comprehensive view of this company and has a very intimate atmosphere. Classes, rehearsals, wardrobe, a company meeting about retirement age and pensions – we are a fly on the wall, my favorite place in such a film. I saw it on the big screen, and intend to make it part of my collection. The artistic director Brigitte Lefevre reveals many aspects of company life in classical ballet.

Still on my ballet movies wish list:

Tribute To Jerome Robbins – three ballets ranging from highly emotional, to comedic, this is presented with information on each ballet, and is available both on DVD and Blu-ray.

The Paris Opera Ballet Box Set  – relatively new, released in 2011, this set offers three ballets that present the traditional and modern ballet expertise of this company. Brigitte Lefevre is the artistic director.

MacGregor Three Ballets (Chroma/Infa/Limin). Wayne MacGregor is a contemporary choreographer, and the company in this Blu-ray is The Royal Ballet. I have not seen this DVD, and I’m aware it is not all in pointe shoes. Sight unseen, I would consider this a low risk purchase given the awards these ballets have won, and the modern and complex issues addressed. For younger kids? I don’t know..

Usually I am writing about pointe shoes and how to avoid blisters. But once in a while I take a break and start looking at movies about classical ballet.

Movies About Ballet

Movies About Ballet

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