"The pointe shoes are part of my instrument," says Royal Ballet first soloist Beatriz Stix-Brunell in the new short film "Friend & Foe," a two-minute exploration of Stix-Brunell's love/hate relationship to her pointe shoes. "They're like a second skin to me," she says, later adding, "And it never gets easier."
"Friend & Foe" was directed by Belgian filmmaker Frederic Van Strydonck. And though it's hard to believe, the whole thing was shot on his Xiaomi MI 10 cell phone. The film is presented by Xiaomi Studios, a promotional branch of the Chinese electronics company.
Van Strydonck shot the film in just under two hours in an empty, blue-lit studio, catching Stix-Brunell's dancing from a number of interesting angles. The sound is beautifully amplified, giving viewers an intimate sense of the creaks and squeaks that come with breaking in new pointe shoes. "I wanted to film ballet in a way I've rarely seen," says Van Strydonck. "It's usually filmed at a distance so you see the dancers fully. However, since we were using phones, I was able to get some different vantage points, such as a view from above."
In a time when people are stuck at home due to COVID-19 and learning to rely just on the essentials, "Friend & Foe" is an inspirational reminder that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to create something beautiful.