Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family Movie Night: Ballets Russes

Film: Ballets Russes
Directors: Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller
Original Release: 2005
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
Photo via IMDb

"It's got something for all of us," My Wife said.  "Dancing for the girl, Russian accents for you and potential glimpses of Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso for me."

This 2005 documentary tells the story of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a company formed in Europe in 1938 but which toured primarily in the United States after World War II broke out.   The troupe was one of the most successful and influential in American ballet.  The film is built primarily upon interviews of the former dancers.  The tone is mostly light-hearted and affectionate but there is also plenty of discussion of behind the scenes conflicts.

The best parts, of course, are the dance clips from the company's heyday.  Our Girl is quite an enthusiastic dancer herself - primarily ballet to this point, though she's switched to jazz and tap this year.  She was inspired by the film to get up and practice her own steps while we were watching.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Our Girl seemed to enjoy parts of the film but ultimately got bored.  The modern dance film Pina, which we saw on the big screen in March, while quite odd indeed, did a much better job of holding her attention through the entire film.
  • In the film's where-are-they-now? summary at the end, we learn of dancer Wakefield Poole's subsequent career directing adult gay films.  There is a short clip included of what certainly appears to be a naked man standing thigh-high in the ocean - too far away to be conclusive on the fully nude part.  By that point, Our Girl had tuned out so it didn't really matter.
  • Otherwise, the film is pretty clean.  I don't even remember any swearing.

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.


  1. Jazz and tap! Fantastic evolution.

    1. I think so, too. I'm all for ballet but I have my worries about her pursuing it long term. In my experience, body image issues tend to creep in for dancers as they get older. Our Girl is quite petite now but that can change. The jazz/tap world is a bit more forgiving.

    2. For now, the choice is hers. I've said all along that if any teacher ever tells her she needs to watch her weight, we're finished. But for the moment, I feel we're in very good hands. She's been with the same teacher for years now and she's wonderful.