La Danse—The Paris Opera Ballet | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG · 159 minutes · 2009

Documentary
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman applies his famously organic storytelling style to the Paris Opera Ballet, and the result is a dance film like no other. In the numerous rehearsal scenes Wiseman's patient gaze captures all the grueling, stressful work that contributes to the onstage illusion of easy grace. The dance ranges from classical (Swan Lake) to modern (antsy movements set to throbbing techno), and the work is frequently stunning. But that's only half the story, and other scenes examine more prosaic aspects of the business: fund-raisers plan a backstage tour for American benefactors, seamstresses work on costumes, workmen repair ceiling plaster, cafeteria workers dish out lunch, and a beekeeper (who knew?) monitors his honeycombs on the roof. In the end, this 2009 movie is most impressive for its workaday structure: backstage documentaries typically build to the climax of opening night, but here the dress rehearsals are all we get. By the time one production debuts, basic choreography for the next is already in progress.


See our full review: The Paris Opéra Ballet does la danse francaise big time

The Paris Opéra Ballet does la danse francaise big time

A legendary company comes to the Harris Theater »

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Producer: Frederick Wiseman

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