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Completely ballet mad so even when I'm 'resting' need to be involved with ballet! :)

Does anyone know of any good films about/involving ballet available in the UK?

Maybe newer ones than the traditional Billy Elliot, Ballet Shoes etc.

I tried watching Black Swan but had to turn it off half way through :o

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Well I would recommend Mao's Last Dancer if you have got a machine that is capable of playing it. Just looked at Amazon UK and it is available on Blu-ray and as an imported Region 1 DVD.

 

I also very much enjoyed a film from the 80s called White Nights starring Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.

 

Not ballet but the dance scenes in Strictly Ballroom are enthralling.

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Don't know if these are available in the UK but you might like Robert Altman's The Company. Also Centre Stage. An oldie-but-goodie is The Turning Point if you haven't seen it, and it's got Baryshnikov so what's not to like? Unfortunately I think White Nights DVD was discontinued some years ago. On the documentary front, I really liked Etoiles about the Paris Opera Ballet (more than the more recent La Danse, actually). Also, Ballerina, about 4 Russian ballerinas (Lopatkina, Vishneva, can't remember the other two). A very recent documentary with a lot of human interest is First Position which follows 6 participants in the Youth America Grand Prix. Not sure if it's been released on DVD yet but doubtless soon.

I would second Janet's recommendation of Mao's Last Dancer, and I know she's not just recommending it because she's crazy about Chi Cao :) ! I also really liked Strictly Ballroom.

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I love centre stage, and the company is supposed to be good although I haven't watched it myself. I can't wait for First Position to come out on DVD and I'm currently loving US tv series' such as Dance Moms, Bunheads, Breaking Pointe and Dance Academy!

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Completely ballet mad so even when I'm 'resting' need to be involved with ballet! :)

Does anyone know of any good films about/involving ballet available in the UK?

Maybe newer ones than the traditional Billy Elliot, Ballet Shoes etc.

I tried watching Black Swan but had to turn it off half way through :o

 

I, too, - and my ballet loving husband - just couldn't take Black Swan.

 

There are two films from many years ago which I have and adore:

 

"Children of Theatre Street" and "Backstage at the Kirov" - both wonderful. In one of them I saw an exercise in class that my Russian (pre-Vaganova) teacher used to give us. It was taught to her by Alexandra Baldina and Theodore Koslov - both members of the original group of dancers who came to France for that first season with Diagelev.

 

I have a huge collection (one of the largest in the country) of ballet tapes and DVD's and so most of what is mentioned above I have.

 

As for the film "Turning Pointe" - the producers made a real effort to tape the leading dancers of the day - and the movie is worth watching just for that. Unfortunately, Gelsey Kirkland who was supposed to star opposite Baryshnikov could not - but her replacement, Leslie Browne, is wonderful. Antionette Sibley is in it, too - and there is comparatively very little of her dancing recorded on tape - so this bit is quite to be treasured.

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An old one that I adore is Black Tights which cost me a whole £3 on DVD. Zizi Jeanmarie, Cyd Charise and Moria Shearer - what's not to like! If you fancy a mix of horror and ballet, Suspiria is the way to go. I for one will not be watching the remake which is due next year.

 

Speaking of Moria Shearer, Channel 4 have been known to show The Man Who Loved Redheads and Peeping Tom and of course there is always The Red Shoes.

 

Finally there is Save The Last Dance 2 which is a much better film than the first installment, and has more dancing too - ballet and hip-hop. Don't forget the "Step Up" series, although I don't like these as much as other dance films.

 

I concur with Janet about Mao's Last Dancer and Strictly Ballroom. I quite like Flashdance too!

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For documentaries, there is "Ballets Russes" and the DVD contains lots of extra material which is almost better than the film itself! For those who haven't heard, the British Film Institute is running a series of films about or featuring Anna Pavlova over the next two weeks. Ticket price per film is £10 - rather a shame they are only showing one film per day for those of us who have to add on the cost of travelling into London.

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Not ballet - and DVD acquired via Amazon France - Le Roi Danse - about Louis XIV and Lully - quite a bit of baroque dance and the most fantastic costumes. Directed by the same man who made the film about the castrato singer Farinelli.

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Not ballet - and DVD acquired via Amazon France - Le Roi Danse - about Louis XIV and Lully - quite a bit of baroque dance and the most fantastic costumes. Directed by the same man who made the film about the castrato singer Farinelli.

Yes I liked that one too. An insight into the origins of ballet.

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I loved The Turning Point and Flashdance too. Also the original Beatrix Potter film with Ashton dancing the part of Mrs Tiggywinkle. I remember a French film about a young dancer, with Maina Gielgud also, I think, but it was so long ago that I have no idea what it was called. And there was a Russian film about a Japanese ballerina from Hiroshima getting into the Bolshoi ballet, no prizes for guessing where the plotline went, but I remember it had some quite beautiful dancing from Romeo and Juliet.

All that Jazz is another dance-related classic that never grows old, IMO.

Black Swan is such a hideous travesty, I couldn't get through it.

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If you have SKY then a documentary called A Beautiful Tragedy is regularly shown. It's about a student at the Perm Ballet school. It's not THAT tragic as she makes the grade at the end but it's really engrossing and seems a realistic portrayal of the sacrifices required to succeed in the profession. I loved The Turning Point too and never tire of watching the Red Shoes, particularly in the new re-mastered print which does justice to the fantastic colour. Also, there's a mock ballet in the recent DVD of the Phantom of the Opera which features Sergei Polunin, late of the RB.

 

Following the scandalously successful Black Swan I am waiting for someone to film Rebecca Horsfall's Dancing on Thorns - it would make a nice change to see a film featuring the struggles of a male dancer. If you run out of films, then there are loads of interesting dance biographies as well as novels with ballet as a theme. Try finding a copy of any of the comic novels about the Ballet Stroganoff, especially A Bullet in the Ballet. It always cheers me up on bad days.

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I have on VHS and DVD - taped from TV - a documentary that came out on Suzanne Farrell in 1990. It is one of the most poignant documentaries I've seen.

 

As she relates her experiences with Balanchine , some parts of it are literally heartbreaking - almost like a beautiful moth caught in a web.

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Which one's this, Anjuli? I've got one Farrell documentary, but can't remember the title at the moment.

 

It's called "Suzanna Farrell - Elusive Muse" - it's about her dancing - but watching her tell the story and the pain all these years later gives a real insight into what her world was like. The dancing and the tears cannot be separated.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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I agree Anjuli - The documentary on Ms Farrell does great honour to her book. In that regard it is a great rarity in my experience. (Not that I am suggesting that you should see the one without reading the - principal - other.)

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It's called "Suzanna Farrell - Elusive Muse" - it's about her dancing - but watching her tell the story and the pain all these years later gives a real insight into what her world was like. The dancing and the tears cannot be separated.

 

Her name, of course, is "Suzanne" not "Suzanna" - as I typoed - and came back too late to edit that particular error. Sorry.

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Here's one it seems almost no-one has seen. From Russia in 2011, it's semi-autobiographical and features boys dancing in the Bolshoi School. However, it's more Billy Elliot during Perestoika than documentaryl. It's called Moi Papa Baryshnikov, which translates as My Dad's Baryshnikov.

 

The story though is not at all 'Elliotish'. Take a look at the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMQhl2C00cA

 

And also the pretty good review from Variety - http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117945570/

 

Edited to add- there are some BE similarities, pirouettes in the bathroom anyone?

Edited by Stirrups36
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It's called "Suzanna Farrell - Elusive Muse" - it's about her dancing - but watching her tell the story and the pain all these years later gives a real insight into what her world was like. The dancing and the tears cannot be separated.

 

Oh yes, that's the one I've got. Very good, I seem to remember, although I haven't watched it since I put it onto DVD.

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Re: the Balanchine film about the NYC in Moscow: what ruined it for me was Kevin Kline's pompous and portentous commentary - it wasn't the the end of the world that Ansanelli didn't get to do Serenade that one time!

 

Edited because the post didn't appear where I thought it would!

Edited by lbeard
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