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And this is its official (commercial) description on a site called WebWab (?)

ETOILES is a documentary written and directed by Nils Tavernier (son of director Bertrand Tavernier). The film focuses on the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the oldest and most rigorous ballet academies in existence, founded by Louis XVI, and producing some of the best dancers alive. The dancers, choreographers, teachers, students, and even the staff who work at the Ballet are captured in the film, weaving an intricate tapestry that shows the busy, demanding, and highly structured world in which these people live. The process of becoming a Paris Opera Ballet dancer is brutal, both physically and psychologically. Girls between the ages of 8 and 10 and boys between the ages of 9 and 11 begin at the Paris Opera Ballet`s offshoot in Nanterre. There, they are trained by teachers who have been with the company for decades and who, often, are themselves graduates of the school. An annual exam determines whether the students graduate to the next level, and only a handful make the cut. Individual interviews with the adult dancers have them describe what dancing means to them, and many are at a loss for words, declaring it a way of life and the only thing they know. Love is not the word, says one young woman, it`s something that devours you. Another explained that she contemplated being a nun, and instead became a dancer. Meanwhile the dancers furiously rehearse performances of Swan Lake, Maurice Bejart`s Ninth Symphony, and La Sylphide. A beautiful film because of its music, its settings, its dances and dancers, ETOILES is a portrait of dancers who dedicate their lives to mastering a single art, while sacrificing practically everything else.
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From the names listed on movie.com, it looks fairly recent:

Maurice Bejart -

Brigitte LaFevre -

Elisabeth Platel -

Marie-Agnes Gillot -

Aurelle DuPont -

Peggy Grelat -

Manuel LeGris -

Nicolas Le Riche -

Erwan LeRoux -

Gilles Mondolo -

Eve Grinsztajn -

Miteki Kudo -

Amelie Lamoureux -

Agnes Letestu -

Jose Martinez -

Laure Muret -

ClaireMarie Osta -

Noella Pontois -

Wilfired Romoli -

Ghislaine Thesmar -

Carole Arbo -

Isabelle Ciara Vola -

Patrice Bart -

Keder Belar -

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The movie had a brief theatrical run. I saw it, sucker for ballet that I am. It basically follows several dancers and I seem to recall that the dance sequences were not hugely satisfying. I don't remember alot of specifics other than the fact that I walked out of the theater not particularly thrilled.

Note also that it's subtitled in English

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There was also a brief review in the Village Voice last year. I was unable to catch the film at the theater, so I'm glad it's getting released on DVD.

Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet Directed by Nils Tavernier (First Run, opens November 8, at Cinema Village) A terrific example of the "inside story" genre, in which a filmmaker cozies up to ballerinas and danseurs (off-duty and onstage) with his Steadicam, Etoiles is a voyeur's dream. Director Nils Tavernier (who narrates and poses quiet questions from behind the camera) lingers on the beauty of full-blown stars as well as novices, interviews teachers and managers, and loiters backstage, in dressing rooms, and in class. It's like a nature study, only the subjects are bipeds who fall easily into Degas postures. Among the many pleasures are the lively intelligence of the artists and their perceptiveness about their own situations. "Dance is something that devours you, stronger than love," says one; another observes that the company "is a machine that crushes the weak." —Elizabeth Zimmer

(from http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0245/shots.php)

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MickeyFan posted the following in the POB forum:

I just finished watching Etoiles, Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet (for the second time). I am sure many of you have seen it. I was fascinated at the behind the scenes viewpoints.

At one point, they explained a quadrille makes 13,000 francs a year, and an etoile makes 35,000 francs a year. Is that correct or did I misunderstand? I did a quick currency conversion and that would be 2,500-5,000 US dollars. Yikes! If nothing else, this film was clear on the fact these dancers are pursuing their passion!

I particularly liked the last scene of this film where the corps de ballet comes offstage from their last scene in Swan Lake. As soon as they stage left, they all grab their dance bags and water bottles and scoot out the back. Just another day at the office...

If you have not already seen it, this is a very interesting film. I purchased mine at Amazon.com

About the salaries: I think you misunderstood, because those figures are incredibly low, nobody could live with so little money, moreover it would be illegal (below the minimal wage in France)... :thumbsup: Perhaps those were monthly figures? Also, all the salaries of the dancers below principal are fixed (depending on the category and on how long they've been in the company), plus some extra money depending on how much they perform and on how much time they spend on stage. For the principals it's a bit different, they sign a new contract each year, and so the salary might depend quite a lot on the dancer. Also, of course, some of them can earn extra money when performing with other companies, or in galas (and it's much better paid for the principals...)

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