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I enjoyed White Crow... I took a 20 year old who knew almost nothing about Nureyev and it touched her...  i had little hope for the movie, after all who could match Nureyev's charisma, but I thought it was well done.  One get's the turmoil involved...   I thought it interesting how the actor tried to portray Pushkin... seemed close to the youtube clips... but Lifar made out like a bandit...

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I saw White Crow yesterday and loved it! It's not a "ballet film" with extensive performing, just brief glimpses of the classroom, rehearsal, and performance. But for ballet lovers who know Nureyev's story, it's fascinating to see it spelled out in narrative detail. The childhood in Siberia, the desperate poverty, the reminder that his father went off to fight in WWII and made it home, the supreme confidence in his own dancing, the excitement of experiencing Paris for the first time, the terror at the realization that the KGB was sending him back to Moscow to prison or worse. . .  Lots of cutting back and forth in time which worked for me. I hope it makes it to Netflix or HBO eventually so I can study details. 

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I saw it (Nureyev) last night, and I found it a disjointed disappointment.  There were many important points made, almost as throw-away lines mixed in with the chaff, and what made Nureyev so driven and what he needed to do to catch up, was missing.  If you didn't have prior background or understanding, you might have thought Balanchine's Apollo was choreographed by Martha Graham, and, because Nureyev wasn't in the scene, Leto giving birth, which might have been the bridge, wasn't shown.  I didn't find Wiseman's reasoning for not identifying people in his POB doc convincing,  and the Morrises are no Wiseman.  I didn't find watching Nureyev perform what seemed like the same variation and manege in every classical ballet all that interesting. The only nuance is in his Corsaire solo, where he goes from turns into those beautiful ballances.

What really grabbed me was the footage of Bruhn and of Vivi Flindt. 

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It looks like we're talking about two different films here.  The White Crow is a biopic directed by Ralph Fiennes.  It had a fairly large release earlier in the year.  Nureyev, directed by Jaqui and David Morris, is more a documentary (commentary by those who knew him, extensive archival footage) with some fictionalized bits.

I saw the Morris' film yesterday, and though I was grateful for the archival footage (some of which I hadn't seen), and the thorough and thoughtful discussion of Margot Fonteyn and their affect on each other's career, I agree that big parts of it were hyperbolic.  Even though that might be an appropriate characterization of Nureyev, it seemed to substitute adulation for a more nuanced examination of his work. 

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Can someone please declare a moratorium on Nureyev-related films?  Do documentary makers feel that the only way that they can receive funding for a project (beside a GoFundMe page) is to make Nureyev the subject of the film?

 

White Crow is unique because it is a dramatization of RN's life. Except for a dancing clip or two, I found the Morris' documentary to be mostly useless.

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I understand your sense of overload with this, but for me, the Morris doc did jumpstart some thinking about Nureyev and the confluence of elements that led to what we call the Dance Boom in the 1970s.  I would love to see more documentary work about that period, and the multiple amazing performers that were a part of it.

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On 7/29/2019 at 2:15 PM, canbelto said:

Wiseman never identifies people in his docs. It's his thing. Part of this is that many of his docs dealt with extremely sensitive issues. But it's weirder when he;s just documenting ballet.

Yes, this came up as an issue for his ABT and Paris Opera documentaries, as well. The technique works well for subjects like High School and Hospital, but when the subject is the performing arts it becomes much more important to know who these people are and what they're performing, 

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18 hours ago, sandik said:

I understand your sense of overload with this, but for me, the Morris doc did jumpstart some thinking about Nureyev and the confluence of elements that led to what we call the Dance Boom in the 1970s.  I would love to see more documentary work about that period, and the multiple amazing performers that were a part of it.

Me, too. I'm grateful for any attention to dance and it pleases me that Nureyev still commands so much interest - it's a real tribute to him as dancer and star.

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With all due respect to Nureyev, I can think of so many great ballet stars of the Boom Era (60s/70s) who deserve to have his/her story told (Makarova, Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Bruhn, the Panovs, etc.). We have a couple of good docums about Fracci, one about Marcia Haydee and a couple two about Bujones, thanks to his sister's initiative. We also have one about Farrell. Think of all the greats of the 60s and 70s about whom there are no true documentaries.

No. "Baryshnikov on Broadway" does not count. :P

 

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1 hour ago, Roberta said:

With all due respect to Nureyev, I can think of so many great ballet stars of the Boom Era (60s/70s) who deserve to have his/her story told (Makarova, Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Bruhn, the Panovs, etc.). We have a couple of good docums about Fracci, one about Marcia Haydee and a couple two about Bujones, thanks to his sister's initiative. We also have one about Farrell. Think of all the greats of the 60s and 70s about whom there are no true documentaries.

No. "Baryshnikov on Broadway" does not count. :P

 

There was a 1983 film on Baryshnikov with some biography and a new work created on him by Choo San Goh. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1237371/

If you search on YouTube, it's been posted in segments.

Many thought The Turning Point had obvious biographical elements on Baryshnikov. Ditto for White Nights

It's expensive to make documentaries and you need a big name. It took YEARS to get the Marcelo Gomes documentary made and it seemed to be quite a struggle to come up with funds. https://www.dancechanneltv.com/anatomy-of-a-male-ballet-dancer-trailer/

https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Ballet-Dancer-Marcelo-Gomes/dp/B07GYX8655/

It's also quite possible that living artists aren't eager to have a documentary made about them. We don't know about those named.

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2 hours ago, California said:

There was a 1983 film on Baryshnikov with some biography and a new work created on him by Choo San Goh. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1237371/

If you search on YouTube, it's been posted in segments.

Many thought The Turning Point had obvious biographical elements on Baryshnikov. Ditto for White Nights

It's expensive to make documentaries and you need a big name. It took YEARS to get the Marcelo Gomes documentary made and it seemed to be quite a struggle to come up with funds. https://www.dancechanneltv.com/anatomy-of-a-male-ballet-dancer-trailer/

https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Ballet-Dancer-Marcelo-Gomes/dp/B07GYX8655/

It's also quite possible that living artists aren't eager to have a documentary made about them. We don't know about those named.

Oh, that's basically about the creation of the Goh ballet Configurations, followed by the ABT performance - Baryshnikov - The Dancer and the Dance - emphasis on the dance part. We're grateful to have it but no cigar. Absolutely not a biography docum. Neither are the shortish docums about Makarova going back to the USSR. I'd love to see Baryshnikov and Makarova get "the Patricia Foy treatment" in a documentary...although I know that Foy herself passed away a while back. We need a new Patricia Foy.

Edited by Roberta
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Baryshnikov has had a more interesting life since 1983 than before 1983, IMO.  It's hard for me to imagine he'd be unhappy with a doc about his artistic interests, especially post ballet, and the Baryshnikov Center.

But I'd also love to see a mini-series about the Great Danes, from the salvation of the Bournonville rep and development of the schools, to the 20th-century greats, like Brenaa, Kronstam, Bruhn, among the men.  (I'm not sure what footage exists for the female greats.)

Most of the classical footage in the mediocre Nureyev doc bored me after the 4th or 5th repeat of the variation clip and didn't speak greatly to Nureyev as an artist.  Especially without context of what male dancers looked like until then.  

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There are so many things I'd like to see examined in film about that period in our history.  Just limiting it to ballet (ouch!) -- we've got some documentation about ABT and the Joffrey, and a number of works that focus on NYCB and especially about Balanchine, but really nothing that looks in depth at the rest of the world.  I'd especially like to see more research dealing with Rebekkah Harkness, the Ford Foundation, the development of the NEA and regional agencies, and other institutions that dealt with funding.  I don't think we spend enough time considering where money comes from and how it gets around.

One more thing, though, about the Nureyev film -- the footage looking at Bruhn and Nureyev taking barre together was so interesting -- I think it showed us all kinds of things about how ballet can operate and their their fundamental different approaches to the discipline.

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8 hours ago, California said:

Many thought The Turning Point had obvious biographical elements on Baryshnikov. Ditto for White Nights

It's expensive to make documentaries and you need a big name. It took YEARS to get the Marcelo Gomes documentary made and it seemed to be quite a struggle to come up with funds. https://www.dancechanneltv.com/anatomy-of-a-male-ballet-dancer-trailer/

https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Ballet-Dancer-Marcelo-Gomes/dp/B07GYX8655/

It's also quite possible that living artists aren't eager to have a documentary made about them. We don't know about those named.

All of Baryshnikov's dance movies exploited his reputation as a womanizer, with diminishing returns. White Nights, of course, also cast him as a defector. (When he appeared in Sex and the City, it was basically as another variation on this popular image of himself, only he was made an artist instead of a dancer.)

He did appear by way of photographs in the recent documentary on Studio 54, shown in the company of Ms. Minnelli. Baryshnikov's career as an American-style celebrity would also be well worth an examination.

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8 hours ago, Roberta said:

Oh, that's basically about the creation of the Goh ballet Configurations, followed by the ABT performance - Baryshnikov - The Dancer and the Dance - emphasis on the dance part. We're grateful to have it but no cigar. Absolutely not a biography docum. Neither are the shortish docums about Makarova going back to the USSR. I'd love to see Baryshnikov and Makarova get "the Patricia Foy treatment" in a documentary...although I know that Foy herself passed away a while back. We need a new Patricia Foy.

I think it's worth seeing as Baryshnikov speaks quite a bit before the performance of Configurations.  I would love to see a documentary on Makarova and Baryshnikov, both individually and together.  There is also at least one doc in Russian on Baryshnikov and Godunov on youtube, unfortunately with no option for subtitles in English.  Also as Sandik observed about the unpopular doc on Nureyev, the scenes with him and Bruhn were intriguing: 

One more thing, though, about the Nureyev film -- the footage looking at Bruhn and Nureyev taking barre together was so interesting -- I think it showed us all kinds of things about how ballet can operate and their their fundamental different approaches to the discipline.

Just watching those scenes gave you more information than paragraphs of text.

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