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The Turning Point on Cinemax/Max


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I love The Turning Point.  I just wish that Ross had kept the fight scene in close-up, instead of commenting on it -- making it silly -- by shooting it from afar. It comes from a place, and that place is lost by that choice.

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I'm not sure there's any way that a scene with women hitting each other with their handbags isn't going to evoke the Batley Townswomen's Guild reenacting Pearl Harbor.

Thanks for the heads-up, California. The movie doesn't turn up on cable as frequently as it once did, so it would be a good idea to take advantage.

The Turning Point, for all its failings, actually looks pretty good in the context of the ballet movies that have followed it, including Ross' later efforts. I never have any trouble sitting through it.  And of course where else are you going to see all those wonderful dancers at once?

I love the scene where Danilova points to herself and then to each dancer in turn, "From Maryinsky to me, from me to you..." It's a sweet evocation of the passing of ballet tradition from generation to generation.

One thing that definitely hasn't aged well is the idea that womanizing makes a man more appealing and is at worst a fairly forgivable quirk, a concept that Ross and Baryshnikov would return to in Dancers.

 

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

One thing that definitely hasn't aged well is the idea that womanizing makes a man more appealing and is at worst a fairly forgivable quirk, a concept that Ross and Baryshnikov would return to in Dancers.

 

Another thing that hasn't aged well: the belief that children/marriage and a career in ballet are mutually exclusive. 

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Balanchine and many other directors clung to that notion for a long time.  I always wondered if Balanchine would have dropped von Aroldingen like a rock if they hadn't been friends when she became pregnant, and, even then, she was afraid to tell him: he figured it out, even though she wasn't showing in the fourth or fifth month of her pregnancy, which, in itself, sounds pretty crazy. .  If it's different now, it was a reality for women in the era in which the movie was set.

Edited to add:  And while I'm sure it's better now for some, I'm not convinced that every dancer who can give birth is able to make that choice, when so much about a career relies upon the will of an Artistic Director.  I think dancers at PNB are lucky, because it's not just higher-ranked ballerinas in the company who have had children and have continued to dance.

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I haven't seen this movie in maybe 30 years, and I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't aged well. But for me, seeing it age 13, I thought it was a masterpiece, it's what propelled me into ballet lessons, and a long-standing passion for the art form. So thanks for that, Turning Point!

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Antoinette Sibley, who's in the movie, returned to dancing after having a child. I think her daughter would have been a toddler at the time the movie was made.

Melissa Hayden and Allegra Kent both returned to the company after pregnancies, but they were both principals with a) strong relationships with Balanchine who had proved their special value to the company and 2) had the desire and support to make a return happen.  I don't think he and von Aroldingen had yet formed their later close relationship; she said she had to prove to him that her marriage and child hadn't made her what Balanchine described as "Mrs. So-and-So." Balanchine did have a point, in that husbands, particularly then, had expectations of a wife that could conflict with the dedication required of a ballerina.

Having said that, the main problem it seems to me is that, as California says, the movie seems to be endorsing the perception -- which, as Helene says, was real enough. The Turning Point presents the issue simplistically and melodramatically - have a child and abandon your career forever, or concentrate on your career and look forward to a barren and empty old age, albeit in a very nice flat:).

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I thought it was a masterpiece, it's what propelled me into ballet lessons, and a long-standing passion for the art form. So thanks for that, Turning Point!

That's lovely, cobweb. And I would say the movie does convey that the ballet world is an exciting place to be and work, and its heroine doesn't end up hurling herself in front of a train or bleeding to death onstage.

What do others think?

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1 hour ago, dirac said:

Antoinette Sibley, who's in the movie, returned to dancing after having a child. I think her daughter would have been a toddler at the time the movie was made.

But her character in the movie didn't, which would have made an interesting contrast, although I'm not sure whether she was supposed to be close in age to Deedee and Emma, or if she was supposed to be ten years younger.  Sibley had no children with Michael Somes, and it wasn't until 1976, when she was ~37 and married to her second husband, that she had her daughter (and a son four years later).  The Turning Point was released in 1977; she may have been a relatively new mom when the movie was still in production.

And she was the exception, and she still is the exception.  Demographically speaking, two years before the pandemic hit, one in five women had a child in their early 20's, nearly half by 25-29, 2/3 by their mid-30's, and 80% between ages 35-39.  Ballet dancers don't come close to those stats while they are dancing.   Although yay for the dancers who took the opportunity during shut-downs to start their families.

But a fun fact:  Tom Skerritt, who played Wayne, portrayed Don Quixote when PNB first performed the Ratmansky version.

 

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