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Photo by Ernesto Galan, Courtesy of Boston Ballet

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.

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

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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!

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Slow-mo and colored chalk. Will we ever get tired of it?

Nope.

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:

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

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:

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

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.

Enjoy! And check out some of Hurwitz's earlier work here, and here.

 

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

In his new film Why We Dance, director Ezra Hurwitz helps us understand what it looks and feels like for members of Miami City Ballet as they prepare for a performance. The film's detailed shots of hands and feet, and its intimate behind-the-scenes footage, feels like an invisibility cloak that allows you to slip backstage. The propulsive score gives a sense of energy and excitement that builds throughout the day and culminates as the curtain rises, revealing the dancers onstage in Justin Peck's Heatscape and George Balanchine's Bourrée Fantasque.

Created for the company's 30th anniversary season, Why We Dance also includes voiceovers of company members as they reflect on their art. As one dancer says, "We care so much about what we do here and being the best that we can be—collectively and individually." If a ballet company could be summed up in a sentence, I think that's getting pretty darn close.

As with his previous films, Hurwitz draws from his experience as a former member of MCB and uses his dancer's sensibility to create something beautiful. We've loved all his films so far, and can't wait to see what's next!

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.

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