Just for fun
Including Dance Academy: The Comeback, naturally. (ZDF Enterprises)

We're deep in the lazy, hazy days of summer—and there's no better time to kick back, relax, and watch one of the many dancetastic movies that've come out recently. Which should you add to your queue? Here are eight must-watches.

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Including Dance Academy: The Comeback, naturally. (ZDF Enterprises)

We're deep in the lazy, hazy days of summer—and there's no better time to kick back, relax, and watch one of the many dancetastic movies that've come out recently. Which should you add to your queue? Here are eight must-watches.

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Just for fun

Colder weather is (finally) here, which means it's time for a good dance movie binge. But which iconic films should you put on? To narrow your search, we went ahead and ranked 30 of the greatest dance movies of all time.

Of course, we know a list like this is bound to be controversial—so if you disagree with our lineup, have at it in the comments!

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Ballet Stars
Photo Courtesy Oscilloscope Laboratories

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.

Ballet Stars
Isabella Boylston and Sergei Polunin rehearsing in Budapest. Photo via @IsabellaBoylston on Instagram.

Not too long ago, we found out that Sergei Polunin would be getting his big Hollywood break with two film roles, including one in an upcoming spy thriller called Red Sparrow. Details about the project have been scarce so far, but we know that the story takes place in modern-day Russia, and revolves around a young dancer who's recruited against her will to participate in an operation against a CIA officer. We also know that other big names are involved: Jennifer Lawrence will star, alongside Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons.

All of that would have been exciting enough on its own, but now there are two more major reasons to keep this movie on your radar: Jennifer Lawrence's dance double is none other than Isabella Boylston, and the film is choreographed by none other than Justin Peck.

Both artists have been posting scenic shots of Budapest (where the movie is filming) over the past couple weeks, including glimpses of Boylston and Polunin in rehearsal. While their posts haven't directly referenced the movie, a look at the Red Sparrow IMDB page confirms their roles as dance double and choreographer (scroll down to “stunts" and “other crew"). Polunin's specific role has yet to be announced, but with this kind of ballet star power on board, there's a very good chance that the dancing in the film will be gorgeous—let's hope there will be lots of it.

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Everything Nutcracker
Sascha Radetsky and Amy Acker in A Nutcracker Christmas. Photo by Christos Kalohoridis, Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC

Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, with their delightfully cheesy plots and predictable fairy tale endings, are pretty much the ultimate guilty pleasure. But this year there's an extra reason to cozy up in front of the TV in your pajamas, popcorn in hand. The latest Hallmark original movie, A Nutcracker Christmas, is all about ballet, complete with a cast of talented dancers.

The story centers on Lily, a former ballerina who thought she'd left the dance world behind long ago. She comes face-to-face with ballet again when her niece, Sadie, is cast in The Nutcracker. And Sadie's director just happens to be Lily's ex-boyfriend from her dance days, Mark.

The best part of all this? Former American Ballet Theatre dancer Sascha Radetsky, who's already proven he has acting chops in Center Stage and Starz's "Flesh and Bone," plays Mark. Sadie is played by young up-and-comer Sophia Lucia. In other words, we are hopefully in for some pretty great Nutcracker-themed dance sequences. From the looks of the preview, we just might be in luck.

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Ballet Stars

After months of anticipation, it's finally here. Dancer, the long-awaited documentary of international ballet star Sergei Polunin, had its world premiere in Los Angeles September 9, and opens in New York and on demand this Friday, September 16. It will also play in selected cities across the country.

Through intimate childhood home videos, performance footage and in-depth interviews with his family, friends and even detractors, Dancer aims to unpack the complicated, controversial life of the former Royal Ballet star. As you may recall, Polunin made headlines several years ago for walking out on his principal contract at age 22—and for his very public, self-sabotaging behavior. But the movie also reveals his troubled home life, the enormous sacrifices his family made for him, and his inner turmoil over whether to continue dancing. In this clip, we see him spiraling out of control, exhausted and stifled by his heavy commitments with The Royal Ballet.

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Ballet Stars
Polunin in David LaChapelle's video to Hozier's "Take Me to Church." Photo via Dance Magazine.

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.

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News

Imagine: A March Madness bracket filled with dance movies...

What is the greatest dance movie of all time? While everyone else is wrapped up in NCAA March Madness, that annual frenzy of brackets and basketball-watching, Pacific Northwest Ballet knows this is a question dancers are way more passionate about (we're guessing you have some strong opinions). So yesterday, they announced their own game: Dance Madness.

Here's how it works: Every day, from now through Monday, head to this page to vote for the top two movies in various categories. Starting on Tuesday, March 15, the final bracket goes live and all the top choices will battle it out. You'll keep voting for your favorites and the list will narrow to a Final Four on April 1.

Singin’ In the Rain. Photo courtesy Turner Entertainment.

Today's two categories are "Golden Age," featuring classics like Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris and Top Hat; and "Millennium," with more recent hits like Billy Elliot, Save the Last Dance and Center Stage. Happy voting!

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

News

Courtesy High Strung

A long time ago, we heard about a new dance movie in the works starring former Mariinsky Ballet dancer (and style icon) Keenan Kampa. But it was unclear when we’d get to see Kampa make her acting debut. Now we can happily confirm that High Strung will hit U.S. theaters on April 8.

The story sounds like a blend of Step Up, Center Stage and pretty much every other guilty pleasure dance movie you love (come on, admit it). I’m talking drama, romance and high-impact dance scenes. Kampa plays Ruby, a ballet dancer who moves from the Midwest with a scholarship to attend a demanding New York performing arts school. There, she meets Johnnie, an aspiring musician from Britain who's earning money by playing his violin on subway platforms. Despite their different backgrounds, the two are brought together by their shared artistic ambitions when they join forces with a hip-hop crew for a competition that could help both of them reach their goals.

The best part? The cast is full of talented dancers, including Kampa, former Scottish Ballet dancer Sonoya Mizuno and hip-hoppers Ian Eastwood and Comfort Fedoke. With an all-star group like this, we have high hopes that the movie will prove to be worth the wait—even if it's just for the dance scenes. Check out the trailer below.

 

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

We all felt a little defeated when "Bunheads" and "Breaking Pointe" were taken off the air. But news of Starz's "Flesh and Bone" cheered us up a little. And now High Strung, a movie about a musician who meets a ballerina who "changes his world," is in the works. Not much other information has been released about the project, but we do know that its choreographer is Dave Scott, who has been involved in "So You Think You Can Dance" and the Step Up series. Auditions for ballet dancers, ages 18–23, will be held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 18.

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