Iconic ballerina Wendy Whelan enjoyed a groundbreaking career, both in length and breadth. She danced with New York City Ballet for 30 years and has had more roles made for her than nearly any other ballerina. Despite her accomplishments, the last few years of her career at NYCB were riddled with worsening injuries and a creeping sense that others saw her as in decline. Whelan, like most dancers, knew her desire to perform would outlast what her body could do—at least within the confines of ballet.
Restless Creature, the new documentary covering her transition out of NYCB, hits select theaters in New York on May 24. It gives us a chance to look back on one of the most fraught times in Whelan's life, when she was giving her all onstage at the Koch Theater, yet battling pain and self-doubt offstage.
There are times when Sergei Polunin's life seems straight out of a movie. From his notorious rebelliousness—exemplified by his shocking decision to walk away from his promising career at The Royal Ballet—to his glamorous relationship with Natalia Osipova to his trademark tattoos, the international ballet superstar has had his fair share of drama. We can never predict what he's going to do next, but let's face it—that's part of the reason we love him.
So when we heard there would be a new documentary about his life, it seemed only fitting. The trailer for the film, Dancer, was just released, and from the looks of it, there will be tons of jaw-dropping footage of Polunin in motion. In case we needed a reminder of how powerful this can be, the trailer is set to Hozier's "Take Me to Church," bringing to mind his passionate, soaring moves in last year’s viral YouTube video. It also looks like the film will dig into Polunin's challenging past, with the trailer alluding to family drama and inner turmoil.
No word yet on when the film will be released, but we'll be keeping our eyes out. Until then, check out the video below:
It turns out we may have even more opportunities to see Polunin dance in the near future: He recently told The Guardian that he hopes to rejoin the Royal as a guest artist, and he's spoken about his desire to dance with Osipova as often as possible. He'll get a chance to do that when the pair heads to New York's City Center this fall to perform in a program of U.S. premieres—and fans lucky enough to be in the New York area can see them in action.
From its eerie opening scene to its dramatic closing interview, Bolshoi Babylon—a documentary filmed in the aftermath of the 2013 acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet director Sergei Filin—creates a distinct sense of tension regarding the iconic company’s future.
The dance footage and backstage access featured in the documentary are unprecedented—especially considering the public scrutiny the Bolshoi was experiencing at the time. The filmmakers catch the dancers in the wings, onstage and in the studio, giving viewers a perspective that’s rarely, if ever, seen.
Curious why Filin’s contract, which expires in March 2016, wasn’t renewed? Bolshoi Babylon pulls back the curtain on the subtle, and not so subtle, power shifts within a company where it seems that everyone is on edge and anyone is expendable. The documentary airs on December 21 (tomorrow night!) on HBO.
Whether you're training in an elite academy, a wealthy suburban conservatory or a studio in the middle of Rio de Janiero's dirt poor favelas, the path to becoming a professional dancer is never easy.
A new ballet documentary, Only When I Dance, presented by Film Movement, follows Isobela and Irlan, two talented teenage ballet dancers from Rio as they sacrifice everything to make it in the ballet world. Much of the drama, such as the pain of injury, being told to lose weight, giving up any semblence of "normal teenage life" and the despair of rejection, is something any ballet dancer can relate to. But for these two students, the stakes are even higher, as joining a company is their only opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families.
The camera follows them to the Prix de Lausanne and YAGP, capturing the anxiety, the giddiness and the anguish of competitions. The story of the exceptionally talented Irlan contrasts sharply with the story of Isobela, who's very good, but just doesn't have that "wow" factor. There's great backstage and performance footage that shows what goes on behind the scenes and carries you right along on their emotional journey.
Only When I Dance will be released in New York on July 2, with a limited national theatrical release to follow. It is in Portugese, with English subtitles, and runs 78 minutes. See http://onlywhenidancemovie.blogspot.com/ or www.filmmovement.com/filmcatalog/index.asp?MerchandiseID=227