Jump to content
California

Documentary on ABT by Ric Burns

Recommended Posts

Homans is definitely the go-to talking head about ballet nowadays. I attended a Q&A with Suzanne Farrell at the NYPL and she was there giving a speech in the beginning. Like it or not balletomanes are going to be stuck with her for a long time.

I never read any of her books. I'll have to head to the library. But if her appearance on the documentary is indication of her writing, it is going to be a very dry experience. How did she get to control the message and be the voice of ballet? Who appointed her?

Share this post


Link to post

Homans has been the dance critic for the New Republic, which has run good long-form reviews (Mindy Aloff wrote for them previously). Go look at Apollo's Angels, but carve out the time for it -- it's a long read. There is also a long thread on this site about the book -- take a look at that as well.

Share this post


Link to post

I wondered if the lack of music from the ballets being shown was a budget issue. Then again, it was of a piece with the slow motion which tended to homogenize everything into a single look, even when the documentary was talking about a variety of styles.

I, too, feel I could listen to Ratmansky all day.

You know what's sad? I enjoyed Ratmansky's NYPL talk last October way more than this documentary. They spent all this money and time for what?

Although I did enjoy the interviews with the retired dancers like Serrano and Alonso.

Share this post


Link to post

The next national PBS pledge drive is coming up. I'm guessing that we may be seeing Homans peddling her book as a premium gift for anyone who donates at the $75 level; hard copy PLUS DVD at the $150 level.

Heck, I'm not donating one cent or sending 'thanks' to PBS for this crap. I thanked them for airing the excellent Joffrey Ballet doc on American Masters two years ago. Huge difference.

I understand where you're coming from, Natalia, but given the paucity of dance programming on PBS or anywhere else, I do think they should hear from dance fans. My understanding is that where PBS and NPR are concerned, the squeaky wheels that also send in donations do get the grease. Unlikely that they will be using this movie or any other ballet/modern dance programming on their pledge drives - often as not those programs get farmed out to the PBS cable channels in my neck of the woods, and you're lucky if they're shown more than once.

Thanks for that link, tomorrow, I hadn't read that review.

How did she get to control the message and be the voice of ballet? Who appointed her?

As California noted above, aside from her qualifications Homans has excellent connections. I remember when her writing first started appearing in TNR. Some of it was good, and on other occasions it elicited variations on "Huh?" If you do a search under Homans' name I expect some of those old discussions will pop up.

Share this post


Link to post

This is a wacky theory but it just occurred to me that of all the ballet documentaries I've seen (and the fictional movies), ABT's 75th Anniversary documentary was the only (first?) not to focus on:

1. The hard work involved in ballet. Almost every other ballet documentary I've seen has followed ballerinas into the airless studios, the crowded dressing rooms, and looked at their blistered toes, their tired faces, and stressed that ballet is Very Hard Work. This documentary, with its constant gauzy slo-mo footage, seemed to minimize that aspect of ballet in the way, say, uh, Ballet 422 or Ballet (Frederick Wiseman) or even Bringing Balanchine Back did not.

2. Even the documentaries that didn't emphasize the literal hard work of ballet dancers have emphasized the emotional toll dancing can take. Like for instance in Elusive Muse the otherwise serene Suzanne Farrell has tears streaming down her face as she remembered how she considered suicide and the rather icy way Balanchine accepted her resignation (by simply taking her tutu away). Ballet Russes was a joyful documentary but it did talk frankly about the rivalries, the low pay, the endless touring, and other less romantic aspects to ballet.

3. This kind of buys into Homans' ideƩ fixe that of ballet as some platonic ideal -- a reflection of noble, courtly, Godly values. Because who wants to see blistered toes and stern ballet mistresses shouting corrections when you can talk about Louis XIV and ballet's roots in royal obeisance?

Share this post


Link to post

I wondered if the lack of music from the ballets being shown was a budget issue. Then again, it was of a piece with the slow motion which tended to homogenize everything into a single look, even when the documentary was talking about a variety of styles.

I, too, feel I could listen to Ratmansky all day.

Hi Drew, Yes, very true! The footage they were showing had to have music; also, it was ABT's footage, so I'm not sure including the music with the footage could have been that expensive. Just to be clear, I do not have any experience producing film or TV docs, so I don't know what expenses they had, but this repeated slo-mo was so much filler - didn't they have anything better to say for a 75th anniversary celebration? I'm sure this was a decently financed doc.

Share this post


Link to post

Karen, ABT may have had the recording already, but the expense was not the cost of the making the recording but rather of clearing the rights to broadcast and sell that recording.... a very different thing.

I still prefer to see the dance to the music.

Share this post


Link to post

Karen, ABT may have had the recording already, but the expense was not the cost of the making the recording but rather of clearing the rights to broadcast and sell that recording.... a very different thing.

I still prefer to see the dance to the music.

Thanks for the clarification, Amy smile.png .

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×