Saturday, March 07, 2015

Sean Kelly

Doc Thoughts: Ballet 422

ballet-422The creation of a ballet from rehearsal to premiere is documented in Ballet 422.  The New York City Ballet is one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a roster of more than 90 fulltime dancers.  25 year old dancer Justin Peck emerges as a promising choreographer and he is commissioned to create the NYCB’s 422nd new ballet, Paz de la Jolla.  Over the course of the next two months, Peck collaborates with musicians, lighting designers, costume designers and his fellow dancers to create this new production.

Ballet 422 takes a cinéma vérité approach to show the production of Paz de la Jolla from start to finish.  The process begins with Justin Peck recording moves on his iPhone and ends on the ballet’s opening night.  On paper, it sounds like two months is a very tight timeframe to put together a new ballet, especially when there are other performances that the dancers have to prepare for.  However, Ballet 422 shows that it completely possible to put on a full-on dance production in such a short period of time.

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of ballet, or dancing in general, and I probably wouldn’t be getting tickets to the National Ballet of Canada anytime soon.  However, I do say that it is interesting watching the process of putting together a ballet unfold on screen.  It is definitely a lot of hard work to put together some very complex dance moves.  Even when Paz de la Jolla was in dress rehearsals, they were still making small adjustments to make sure that the dancers got it just right.

As a small aside, I have to say that I was amused to find out that Tiler Peck, when one of the principle dancers in Ballet 422, got her start as a child playing Sparkle Motion member Beth Farmer in Donnie Darko.  Even though it is little more than a piece of useless trivia, it does highly interest me, particularly since Peck is one of the main highlights of Ballet 422.  The other principle dancers in the film include Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar, the latter of whom previously appeared, along with Tiler Peck, in the 2010 dance film NY Export: Opus Jazz.  It is also interesting that Justin Peck was choreographing  Paz de la Jolla, while still an active dancer in the NYCB and it becomes apparent that he was putting this show together, while also working as a performer in other productions.  That is definitely an impressive feat.

Altogether, Ballet 422 is an interesting look at the creation of a new ballet production from start to finish.

★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).