Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet | Chicago Reader

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100 minutes · 2001

A behind-the-scenes look at apprenticeship in the fabled Paris Opera Ballet, this 2001 documentary does a fine job of articulating the novice dancers' aspirations and fears while conveying a sense of the cloistered nature of their lives. Director Nils Tavernier (son of Bertrand), who followed the company with his camera for three months, alternates between interviews and rehearsal footage. Most of the dancers have been in training together since childhood; now they must compete for the designation etoile—a star. While they complain of loneliness and long for a more settled life, they also display profound love for their art and great loyalty to the institution. Obviously enamored of his subjects, Tavernier limns their stories with the gentility and grace of a Degas canvas. In French with subtitles.

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