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Ballet movies? (General question)

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Hope some of you can help me compile a personal "to do" list of the best ballet movies. I just got Netflix (yes, late to the party), and I can't find a single thing I like at the moment. Former dancer here, and for years I've avoided watching any dance-related movies - for some reason, it made me overwhelmingly sad (I miss it, I really do). Now I'm old enough to know for sure I can't dance anymore (okay, maybe in the living room when no one else is home), so I'm jumping in. I've been scouring the web for some "best ever dance movies" and honestly, few include a lot of ballet films? Not sure what's up with that, of course yes "Black Swan" gets a mention constantly.

What about "The Company?" Someone recommended one called "The Red Shoes?" I can't find it to save my life though. I've seen "The Turning Point" and it remains an all-time favorite (good grief the drama!). Any help would be much appreciated. These are the lists I looked at, and as you'll see, the choices are decidedly NOT ballet-slanted:

The Best Dance Movies Ever Made

(This one is a 'voted on' list, very very mainstream and lots of choices - I spotted a few ballet gems that might be good, oh and I voted, LOL)

My Favorite Ballet Movies

('Center Stage' is mentioned here)

The Best Ballet Movies

(kind of clunky to get through, lots of ads and such, but 'The Red Shoes' gets a mention, as does 'The Company')

Anyway, thanks to all in advance. We have a long, cold winter coming up and I'd love to have several ballet films lined up to watch.



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Hello, Lara, and welcome. As carbro says, "The Red Shoes" is a must for any ballet fan. Apart from anything else, it's the only ballet film of classic status to date. It also features in important roles great ballet figures of the past such as Robert Helpmann, Leonide Massine, and Moira Shearer. I also think you will like it for its own sake, although it's not to everyone's taste.

I'd also suggest you try using our search engine for further commentary here on BA - we have existing threads with some lively discussions about a number of individual ballet films, including The Red Shoes, The Company, Center Stage, Nijinsky, Black Swan, and The Turning Point. I also think you would get decent results by plugging in "ballet movie" or "ballet film" as well.

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If by "best," you mean dramatic movies which have some priceless ballet sequences, I'd recommend:

  1. White Nights, which opens with a near-complete Le Jeune Home et la Morte, with Baryshnikov; another highpoint is the duet with Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines in the rehearsal studio
  2. Dancers, which includes extensive segments of Giselle with Baryshnikov and Alessandra Ferri, as well as some interesting practice sessions with Baryshnikov
  3. Nijinsky, with several recreations of segments of his ballets, performed by George de la Pena

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Films that randomly pop into my head:

Tales of Hoffmann and The Story of Three Loves. Both feature Moira Shearer who starred in The Red Shoes.

Limelight which had Melissa Hayden and Andre Eglevsky as the lead dancers. Hayden is the dance double for Claire Bloom's ballerina character. This one is highly melodramatic.

In the Astair/Rogers version of Shall We Dance, Fred plays a ballet dancer who longs to work with musical comedy star Ginger.

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Thank you all for such a warm welcome - and for so many amazing suggestions. I'm immediately adding The Red Shoes and Nijinsky to my list (among others). All of you are incredible, and I'm so glad I asked. You all also "get it."

Now, I must go hunt down some great films!

Thank you all again.

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I would try to find the three films titled Ballerina (or Ballerine), each from a different country. In chronological order:

Late 1930s - France's Ballerine - a backstage drama starring the then-child Janine Charrat, as a POB School student who unhooks a trap door to cause the injury of her favorite ballerina's rival. Real-life ballerinas Yvette Chauvire and Mia Slavenska played the two ballerinas. Choreography by Serge Lifar. Filmed at the actual Paris Opera House-Garnier. One of my three favorite all-time ballet films, along with Red Shoes and Turning Point! [Note: I do not recommend the 1940s USA-Hollywood remake of the film, starring Cyd Charisse & Margaret O'Brien. Once you see the French & compare it to the USA one, you'll understand why.]

ca. 1946 - USSR-Russia's Balerina (a.k.a. Solistka Balyet) - a young corps dancer at the Kirov is in love with a composer. Some of the dramatic roles were played by actual Kirov dancers. The film begins with Ulanova in Swan Lake...but, to me, the real gem of the movie is the little-known Nonna Yastrebova's portrayal of a feisty rival to our heroine. A gorgeous blonde, the real-life Yastrebova became a First Soloist with the Kirov -- she was one of Vaganova's faves -- but, I think, was about to retire by the time that the troupe first toured the West, so we know very little about her in the US/Europe.

ca. 1964 - joint USA-Danish The Ballerina - filmed at the Royal Danish Ballet, with several famous dancers taking leading roles, e.g., Kronstam, Simone and, in the title role, Mette Honningen. This was the first ballet-themed movie I saw, as a kid, on the NBC Disney show World of Color.

The French & Danish films have been shown on TCM and The Disney Channel, respectively. The Soviet film is available for purchase in Russia; I've seen it on Russo-American online catalogs, so a Google search may do the trick.

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My list would include Dominique Delouche's Violette et Mr B which for me is so great, and one scene from Rene Clair's Le Million. I second Natalia's choice of Ballerine. I recently watched "Red Shoes" which in odd ways is a great movie, but found the choreography difficult to watch. At the end there seemed to the same simple steps over and over and it had me wishing that Ashton had chereographed it rather than Helpmann.



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