Everything Nutcracker

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in The Nutcracker are simply iconic—two of the world's most celebrated dancers in the world's best-loved ballet. Starring as Clara and the Prince in American Ballet Theater's 1977 made-for-television film, these two superb talents bring both technical and dramatic brilliance to the ballet's culminating scene.

In this version, which Baryshnikov himself choreographed, Clara and the Prince dance the grand pas de deux. He also mixes up the order so that the variations and coda precede the adagio. The clip begins with the tail end of Kirkland's variation, followed by a flawlessly danced coda. Baryshnikov, looking debonair in all white, flies in his jumps, rebounding off the floor like a spring, and Kirkland's impressive diagonal at 0:43 boasts triple fouetté turns.

The mood changes when Drosselmeyer, played by Alexander Minz, arrives in the first chords of the adagio to usher Clara away from her dreamland. In a pas de trois, Clara is torn between her beloved godfather and her prince, reluctant to choose between childhood and the promise of her dreams. In her gauzy nightgown, the delicate Kirkland is ethereal and waif-like as she is promenaded and passed in the air between her partners. She and Baryshnikov make a tender couple and in the end, as she chaînes into his arms, it is clear that she longs to stay with her prince. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall in Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Fall is in full swing; as the weather grows cooler, all we want to do is curl up with an autumnal treat (try these four pumpkin recipes) and a good movie. Luckily, Netflix has some of our favorite dance documentaries available for streaming. So next time you're settling down for a night in, look no further for what to watch; these films are sure to leave you inspired and even more in love with ballet.

Restless Creature, 2017

After limited release in theaters this summer, we're thrilled that Restless Creature has made it to Netflix. This emotional documentary follows former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan as she makes the decision to retire from the company that she called home for 30 years. With plenty of dance footage (starting with her childhood training in Louisville, Kentucky), Restless Creature offers an intimate portrait of one of the world's most famous modern ballerinas.


A Ballerina's Tale, 2015

A Ballerina's Tale tells the story of Misty Copeland's rise to the top. Released just before her promotion to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the film follows Copeland as she overcomes self doubt and injury while making history as an African American ballerina. Interviews with Copeland and footage of her dancing are coupled with the voices of other black women who have been the first in their fields.

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Viral Videos

From Polina to Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer, there are plenty of ballet-themed films hitting movie theaters this month. But if you're looking for something to share with the ballet-loving youngster in your life (or just want to channel your inner dance-happy tween), Leap! might be for you. Released in France in 2016 under the title Ballerina, this animated film tells the story of Félicie (Elle Fanning), an 11-year-old French orphan who arrives in Paris with her best friend, fellow orphan and aspiring inventor Victor, during the height of the Belle Époque. Félicie dreams of becoming a ballerina at the Paris Opéra Ballet. Penniless and with nothing to lose, Félicie finds guidance in POB theater caretaker Odette (played by pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen) and "borrows" the identity of a spoiled brat in order to enter the Opera Ballet School.

While training at the school, Félicie comes up against mean girl Camille, voiced by "Dance Moms" star Maddie Ziegler. In a classic Center Stage-style plot, Camille is pushed by her mother to dance without truly loving it, whereas Félicie dances from a true sense of passion. In order to make the film's dancing look realistic, directors Eric Summer and Éric Warin used keyframe animation of POB artistic director Aurélie Dupont and étoile Jérémie Bélingard's dancing. It's always nice to see real dancers consulted when dance is represented in the realm of pop-culture, and from what we've seen the animated characters' technique looks spot-on (er, with some flying feats thrown in.)

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News

Rehearsing Symphony in C with Tanaquil LeClercq and Francisco Moncion (photo by George Platt Lynes)

Elizabeth Kendall’s book Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer

has inspired a George Balanchine biopic, to be produced by Gulfstream Pictures.

The book focuses on Balanchine's early life, and his friendship with Liidia (Lidochka) Ivanova, who died days before the two were scheduled to leave Russia together. The book covers the years immediately before the Russian Revolution in 1917 and ends in 1924, when Balanchine left the country.

Zippora Karz, a former New York City Ballet dancer, will serve as executive producer. With her expertise and the foundation of Kendall's research, this film has the potential to be very interesting.

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

 

Michaela DePrince, the aspiring ballerina made famous in the documentary First Position, has grown up into an elegant and successful dancer. She's now performing with the Dutch National Ballet.

MGM recently announced that the company has bought the rights to adapt Michaela's memoir Taking Flight, co-written with her mother Elaine DePrince, into a feature length film. The movie will be produced with Alloy Entertainment.

There aren't any other details currently available—no word on when they will start filming, let alone when the film might be released. But it's never too early to speculate: Who will play Michaela?! Quvenzhané Wallis started to develop her dancing chops for Annie, and we already know she's an amazing actor...

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