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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ballet in the movies

The most recent dance film is Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller/horror movie, "The Black Swan." Without having seen it, I can only say wow...it looks amazing. Friends who are non-dancers have told me they loved it; friends who are dancers pick on Natalie Portman's technique.

In past movies, ballet has been represented as a dance form that causes people so much heartache! I'm thinking of some of my favorites like "The Turning Point" and "White Knights" and to a lesser extent, "Flashdance" which shows the character wanting to become a ballet dancer by performing mostly jazz (what???). The dancers are often portrayed as tortured artists who give up everything for their extremely short-lived careers (which are then cut even shorter by the filmmaker's evil hand). "Center Stage" had some wonderful dancing but the characters are, sadly, wooden stereotypes and extremely two-dimensional.

Dance forms like hip-hop and jazz, on the other hand, are represented by people who are more easygoing, well-balanced, funny, and likable, especially when those dancers are former ballerinas who are "turned" into jazz dancers, a la "Save the Last Dance."

I always welcome movies or tv shows that feature ballet (or any type of dance). I am thrilled shows like "Glee" put dancers to work. There are so few opportunities for them in the real world beyond companies. I just hope "The Black Swan" encourages people to pursue ballet and doesn't frighten them away from it.

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