Recently retired Miami City Ballet dancer Ezra Hurwitz has found a second calling as a filmmaker. His latest is a peek into the life, or maybe the mind, of New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns.
Mearns is well known as a dazzling, glamorous and dramatic ballerina. Hurwitz's lovely film, which shows her day as largely self directed and solitary, confirms her star status. Rather than letting the camera exalt Mearns' physical capabilities, Hurwitz uses a restrained, almost secretive approach. The result lends a dream-like quality to the film—echoed by Mearns' statement that she never thought she would be where she is. "I still can't believe I'm doing the roles that I am, today," she says. It turns out that even the most confident onstage performers have a chaotic inner monolgoue of doubt, incredulity, gratitude and determination.
In fact, Hurwitz's choice to play Mearns' insights as a voice-over throughout the film is highly effective. It seems like an authentic stream of consciousness, like the viewer is quietly travelling with Mearns' thoughts as she goes about her day. She is refreshingly honest, and beyond simply showing her dancing, Hurwitz shows how dance is Mearns' life.