In 2017, we shared this short dance film titled Duet. Starring The Royal Ballet's Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Yasmine Naghdi, the video gained ample coverage for its exploration of same sex partnering. Now the film's director, Andrew Morgetson, is back with Nela, a new film showcasing another of The Royal's crown jewels: principal dancer Marianela Nuñez.
It goes without saying: We love dance films. Particularly when their creation is inspired by dancers themselves. When Royal Danish Ballet soloist Magnus Christoffersen, currently with Los Angeles Ballet, approached filmmaker Jason Silva with an idea in mind, Silva knew this project was meant to be. They brought in Los Angeles Ballet principal Tigran Sargsyan to choreograph. The trio's dream-like, atmospheric collaboration, titled The Dancer, is set to a sweeping score by Ludovico Enaudi and focuses in on one dancer's experience, a bit reminiscent of Sergei Polunin in the now viral video "Take Me to Church."
While many moments in the film are deeply emotive, we particularly love 2:50, when Christoffersen leaps off the stage as if it can't contain his energy any longer, expanding our view of the space. For someone alternating between dancing on carpet and concrete, we're pretty impressed by his many virtuosic jumps and turns (though we don't recommend trying that at home.)
So says Kiwi choreographer and former ballet dancer Corey Baker. Luckily, his persistence paid off. On Sunday, April 22 (that's Earth Day, everybody), Baker, who now directs the U.K.–based Corey Baker Dance, is releasing his short film "Antarctica: The First Dance." Commissioned by Random Acts for Channel 4 and The Space (UK), the four-minute film stars Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Madeleine Graham—who performed in unimaginably frigid conditions to promote Baker's very important message. "I wanted to highlight Antarctica's epic landscape and vast beauty, but at the same time show that it is under threat," he says. "Climate change impact is real and immediate. By showing up-close the beauty of this incredible place, people can feel closer to something that may otherwise seem abstract and unconnected."
In a dream world we'd all be able to pop over to the Bolshoi to see the best of Russian ballet whenever we want. But because (unfortunately) that's not a possibility for most of us, the Bolshoi makes it easier by bringing their masterpieces to the silver screen. Now in its 8th year, the 2017-18 Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema season presents a wide range of classic story ballets restaged by some of today's most celebrated choreographers. Movie theaters nationwide will screen these ballets starting on October 22; you can find the closest cinema to your hometown here. So grab a ballet-loving friend and a bucket of popcorn and be sure to get your tickets soon—if these knockout trailers are any indication, tickets are bound to sell out fast.
First up is Le Corsaire. Reworked by Alexei Ratmansky (a theme of this year's selections) from Petipa's 19th century classic, this ballet is billed by the Bolshoi as one of their "most lavish productions." A full shipwreck on stage? Yeah, "lavish" seems about right.
Hollywood portrayals of the dance world tend to be either campy love stories or dark, twisted melodramas. But a new French drama coming soon to American cinemas offers a more introspective (and authentic) perspective of one dancer's search for artistic fulfillment. Polina, co-directed by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj and his wife Valerie Müller, tells the story of a talented Russian ballet student who turns down a contract with the Bolshoi Ballet to pursue a contemporary dance career. Starring Anastasia Shevtsova (a Vaganova Academy graduate who has performed with the Mariinsky Ballet), former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Jérémie Bélengard and Academy Award-winning actress Juliette Binoche (a beautiful mover in her own right), the almost two-hour film has no shortage of dancing.
The movie, based on a graphic novel by Bastien Vivés, follows Polina's rigorous Russian training, which her working-class parents struggle to pay for. Her future at the the Bolshoi seems set, but when a French contemporary company comes to town, she's so inspired by the performance that she follows her boyfriend to France to audition for its choreographer/director (played by Binoche). She works obsessively to change her technique, but ultimately ends up in Antwerp, auditioning endlessly and tending bar. It takes a chance meeting with Karl, a choreographer and improvisation instructor, to help open her eyes to new possibilities.
Preljocaj and Müller direct Polina with a dancer's sensitivity. Many of the rehearsals were shot at his company's studio in Aix en Provence, and scenes from his ballet Snow White are featured throughout. Yes, there are subtitles, but don't let that deter you—Polina is relatable to any artist who's ever struggled to find his or her place in the dance world. The film opens August 25 in New York and September 1 in L.A., followed by a national roll-out. To find it at a theater near you, click here.
Funding for the arts has always been tenuous in the United States. With the current administration threatening to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, things are poised to become even more dire. In response, Boston Ballet principal John Lam created a video to showcase what dance means to his colleagues.
The dancers summarize their thoughts and feelings with a single word: strength, joy, perspective and more. It's a powerful reminder that art isn't a luxury, it's an essential part of what makes us human.
With digital platforms, cinema screenings and Hollywood-worthy trailers, ballet is rapidly expanding beyond the grainy YouTube clips of yesteryear. These two gorgeous new films by Ezra Hurwitz, a former Miami City Ballet dancer turned director, show two facets of the Ballet Across America program, currently onstage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
One is a moody dance film, featuring American Ballet Theatre stars whirling through the empty halls of the Kennedy Center, bringing the building to life. The other is a touching mini-documentary, highlighting the work, uncertainty and sacrifice that goes into a ballet career. Check them out below!
Slow-mo and colored chalk. Will we ever get tired of it?
BalletMet's latest video is an ode to the power of bodies in motion and an exploration of how creativity unites us. Becoming Violet features six BalletMet dancers: Miguel Anaya, Jessica Brown, Grace-Ann Powers, Jarrett Reimers, Josh Seibel and Carly Wheaton. The film was made in partnership with Columbus native Steven Weinzierl, of New York City creative studio Lair, and choreographed by BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang. Touchingly, Weinzierl said in a statement that this film is different from a typical marketing spot. "It's a passion project," he said. "It's for the love of the art form." We can't think of a better reason to do anything!
Usually, ballet companies create stunning promotional videos for the beginning of their season, or for a specific ballet. But Becoming Violet exists just to showcase the company's dancers. In fact, stand-alone ballet videos are becoming more common. Just look at Sergei Polunin's viral performance to Hosier's "Take Me to Church," Or Ezra Hurwitz's meditative On the Sound. Check out BalletMet below:
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Have you seen New York City Ballet's 2016/2017 promotional images? They were shot by famed photographer Peter Lindbergh and feature members of the company in various unstudied poses, set around a rural New York estate. The accompanying video, directed by Stephen Kidd and available on Nowness, is equally dreamy. Lindbergh's style is both gritty and romantic—the dancers never look directly at the camera. Instead, they gaze at each other, or off into the distance. The resulting film creates a feeling of comfortable intimacy. Check it out below:
There's something compelling about the pristine classicism of ballet contrasted against a gritty setting. The viral success of videos like Sergei Polunin and David LaChapelle's "Take Me to Church" doesn't lie.
Here's another video to add to the list of edgy and beautiful dance films out there: Ezra Hurwitz's latest endeavor with San Francisco Ballet. The film is a trailer for the upcoming Justin Peck premiere at SFB, In the Countenance of Kings. It showcases some of the company dancers in choreography pulled directly from the ballet. The twist? They're dancing in a stunning, abandoned train station instead of onstage at the War Memorial Opera House. The music, composed by frequent Peck collaborator Sufjan Stevens, is propulsive. The dancing is energetic and free. And, in an adorable twist, the performers are all wearing white sneakers.
We love Hurwitz's video collaborations because they give a dreamy, romantic twist to standard behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries. And, since he's a retired member of Miami City Ballet, the films are full of little details that dancers know other dancers want to see. This trailer is no different.
If you're a ballet fan, you've probably already noticed the dance films created by fomer Miami City Ballet dancer Ezra Hurwitz. His thoughtful mini-documentary on New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns and his beautiful dance-on-camera short—featuring New York City Ballet principal Gonzalo Garcia and Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Evelyn Kocak—have turned heads. Since we first caught sight of him, Hurwitz has been remarkably productive and he's just finished his latest project with New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck.
Peck and Hurwitz teamed up to create a dance film based on Peck's piece HEATSCAPE, choreographed for Miami City Ballet and inspired by the colorful murals in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. "My approach to filmmaking is extremely informed by my experience as a dancer," says Hurwitz. "When you’re unfamiliar with movement, following the dancer and keeping their limbs in the frame can be anxiety provoking. Understanding the movement before I shoot it allows me to anticipate which movements I want to focus on and how I want to compose my shots."
Hurwitz's dance training influences how he approaches the post-production aspect of his films, too. "With dance on film it’s often essential to have fluidity between shots, even if the moments aren’t supposed to actually be continuous. Even when we inevitably forget to shoot a necessary movement or transition, figuring out the best way to cut between shots based on the movements we did capture is a skill that comes from having been a dancer."
Hurwitz plans to continue experimenting with dance on film, and we're very excited to see where that takes him next.