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Ballet 422: Justin Peck NYCB Ballet Documentary


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#46 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 07:08 AM

I know a little of what you are up against... having started the first index of Dance websites [performed not social] as a service to the community at a time when most of us discussing ballet on the internet had not yet seen a webpage... By the time Google was invented, keeping up was already out of reach...

But if it could be done, how exciting!!! Even if it were only put up once, it would be fascinating!

 

You were a pioneer! Well, thank you! Fortunately, the folks at Dance/USA picked up where you left off. (The link takes you to Dance/USA's National Company Roster, a listing of all known 501c3 dance companies in the U.S. with expense budgets greater than $100,000 for fiscal years ending in 2012.)



#47 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 07:25 AM

I meant your repertory listing, :) not my index, but thanks! A budget filter certainly helps and I'm glad to see Dance/USA providing this service.

#48 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 07:39 AM

I meant your repertory listing, smile.png not my index, but thanks! A budget filter certainly helps and I'm glad to see Dance/USA providing this service.

 

I knew what you meant, but I really did want to commend you for trying to keep an index of company websites going. Even today it's not easy to pull together a comprehensive list, and I'm very glad Dance/USA has committed some resources into making it happen. I use their list all the time now.



#49 sandik

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 09:18 AM

It warms my heart to read a discussion about directories and indexes (and what that says about me I don't even want to think about!)  Thanks to you both for the intelligence and effort you put into this work!



#50 Quiggin

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 01:54 PM

I saw Ballet 422 last night and liked it very much – it seemed very much its own thing. I would have liked less of the costume designing process, and seeing more of Peck working on some small scale choreographic figures. But I didn't miss seeing the whole filmed ballet – which would have looked flat, or not quite fit with the fragmentary nature of the rest of the film.

 

The world of City Ballet it portrayed seemed almost monastic – the film was like an ethnographical observation of the social structures of a monastery.  Justin Peck, from the lowest rung of the ballet, the corps – as the opening title informs us – is selected to choreograph a ballet, does just that, and then immediately after the premiere sheds his suit and tie, returns to being a corps member and joins the cast of the third ballet on the same bill.

 

The scene where Cameron Grant takes Peck aside and suggests he take time out to talk to the orchestras is good. And also Albert Evans having to be an advocate for the dancers. Curious that the name of the piece was not mentioned until the end – only that it had been written in 1935 (at first I thought it might be RodeO).

 

The addition of music of the adagio movement of Symphony in C was technically ok, but perhaps too rich for the images, like a last minute spoonful of Devonshire cream, and ran against the the dry tone of the film. It might have worked with no sound  – the short excerpt of the Ratmansky ballet that Peck has rejoined, then the high shots of Lincoln Center fountains, all in silence or the natural sounds of the plaza.
 



#51 kbarber

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Posted 02 March 2015 - 07:08 PM

I just saw Ballet 422 and loved it. I thought it offered great insight into how collaborative the process of creating a ballet is: choreographer, musicians, costume designers, wardrobe staff, lighting designers, dancers. I recommend it highly if it is playing anywhere near you.

http://www.magpictur...f6-0b4cc0861d52



#52 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:37 PM

The film will be released on DVD on May 26. Amazon is taking orders.



#53 Natalia

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 01:27 PM

I saw it last weekend and found it exceedingly boring. It was nice to see bits of Tiler, Sterling and Amar's dancing on film but there was hardly enough sustained performance footage of PAZ DE LA JOLLA to warrant a second look (or purchase the DVD). Zzzzzzz.....

I *do* love the Martinu music and wonder how Justin Peck choreographed to this score, compared to Wheeldon's fantastic work to the same music, RUSH. Alas, one cannot compare based on the bits of dancing shown in this film. However, I *can*tell that the costumes for the Wheeldon are more beautiful and unified (styles and colors).

#54 ksk04

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 07:48 PM

This is streaming on Netflix, now, for anyone who wants to watch it.

 

I watched it last night and I thought it was pretty boring. It seemed to simultaneously want to audience to already be "in the know" (about ballet in general or NYCB) but provided no meat for that "in the know" audience. I am not particularly interested in melancholy walks through the streets of NYC or watching someone watch choreography on their computer. Seeing Albert Evans was bittersweet and he was a high point. Someone earlier in the thread mentioned they thought Peck's corrections of Ramansar to Evans were out of line or shouldn't have been included--I thought it nicely captured the weird space for Peck, both in charge and in the corps. He has to be a little brutal with people he would be usually be reticent with. I wonder if the dancers would have had push back in the rehearsal process if he wasn't a corps dancer (I'm thinking especially when Hyltin tells him she's going to change the arm as she keeps falling over). None of this was over the top; I just wondered if it's the same if Ratmansky is standing in front of you.

 

I thought the costume designers seemed like idiots. It's one thing to not know much about ballet as they state, but they seemed very novice-y. I was worried when the woman came up to Peck after the dress rehearsal and was panicking about the costumes looking too busy and how it made the ballet look dis-unified: duh, you couldn't have seen that coming in advance? The choreo looked extremely busy from the little shown of Tiler Peck, so I find it weird no one thought of that beforehand.

 

Overall not impressive, but I think worth a stream on Netflix.



#55 Amour

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 09:20 PM

This is streaming on Netflix, now, for anyone who wants to watch it.
 
I watched it last night and I thought it was pretty boring. It seemed to simultaneously want to audience to already be "in the know" (about ballet in general or NYCB) but provided no meat for that "in the know" audience. I am not particularly interested in melancholy walks through the streets of NYC or watching someone watch choreography on their computer. Seeing Albert Evans was bittersweet and he was a high point. Someone earlier in the thread mentioned they thought Peck's corrections of Ramansar to Evans were out of line or shouldn't have been included--I thought it nicely captured the weird space for Peck, both in charge and in the corps. He has to be a little brutal with people he would be usually be reticent with. I wonder if the dancers would have had push back in the rehearsal process if he wasn't a corps dancer (I'm thinking especially when Hyltin tells him she's going to change the arm as she keeps falling over). None of this was over the top; I just wondered if it's the same if Ratmansky is standing in front of you.
 
I thought the costume designers seemed like idiots. It's one thing to not know much about ballet as they state, but they seemed very novice-y. I was worried when the woman came up to Peck after the dress rehearsal and was panicking about the costumes looking too busy and how it made the ballet look dis-unified: duh, you couldn't have seen that coming in advance? The choreo looked extremely busy from the little shown of Tiler Peck, so I find it weird no one thought of that beforehand.
 
Overall not impressive, but I think worth a stream on Netflix.


I think you might like the movie better if you saw it on DVD/Blu-Ray because it has a commentary by director Lipes (who still never mentions he's married to Ellen Bar, head of NYCB's media operations) and Justin Peck. It's a pretty interesting commentary and helps make more sense of the movie. Also, the main costume designer, Reid Bartelme (the blond guy with glasses) was a dancer and only recently retired. He apparently met Harriet Jung (the frazzled woman) at FIT. They explain this was Reid's biggest commission as a costume designer but he has done the costumes for several ballets. But he definitely was a dancer first.

I also find these images of Albert bittersweet but I'm so glad we have them. They show him being funny, perceptive, helpful. Now that I can see this movie without crying, I'm really glad he's memorialized in it.

#56 Amour

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 09:45 PM

The film will be released on DVD on May 26. Amazon is taking orders.


BTW, I bought 3 Blu-Rays of Ballet 422. Each one was defective and I had to send it back and would get a new one. I could never get a working copy, so I gave up and bought the DVD (which worked, thank God). What's up with Magnolia making such a poor product?

#57 sandik

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Posted 20 July 2015 - 09:50 PM

I think I liked it more than you did, but I remember thinking it was more about a series of meetings than it was about a dance.



#58 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 05:49 AM

I remember thinking it was more about a series of meetings than it was about a dance.

 

 

I put "Ballet 422" in the same category as R. J. Cutler's 2009 "The September Issue" - i.e., a documentary that's more about the process than the product, and more inclined to show the process to you and let you make of it what you will rather than explain it. (I think "Ballet 422" is a little more spare in this regard.) I happened to like both films very much. 

 

"The September Issue" used to be available for streaming on Netflix, but no more alas ... but you can rent it for $0.99 on Amazon Prime Video.



#59 sandik

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Posted 21 July 2015 - 07:39 AM

 

 

I put "Ballet 422" in the same category as R. J. Cutler's 2009 "The September Issue" - i.e., a documentary that's more about the process than the product, and more inclined to show the process to you and let you make of it what you will rather than explain it.

 

Good pocket description!



#60 On Pointe

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 05:31 PM

I watched Ballet 422 on Netflix, which was frustrating because the connection was acting up and the film stopped and buffered about every two minutes. I tried again the next day and almost made it all the way through with no interruption. I loved it. I didn't feel the need to see the whole ballet as the film includes a lot of it during rehearsal, and it was really about Justin Peck's process.

The film does a great job of portraying ballet dancers as hardworking, serious, and not crazy, unlike the usual media image. Whether incidentally or by design, NYCB comes across as a more ethnically diverse institution than it usually appears. Besides the prominence of Amar Ramasar and Albert Evans, this was the first time I've gotten a glimpse of their sole Asian and black female dancers. I was struck by the moment when a very young guy, who looked like a schoolkid, lifted Sterling Hyltin and effortlessly tossed her half way across the stage, repeatedly. It was an impressive illustration of the physical strength that male ballet dancers take for granted, but non fans might find surprising.

JP is very attractive on film. If he ever tires of dance, he could do very well as a model - imagine him as the face of Ralph Lauren menswear, especially when he wears his glasses!


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