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Laramie Movie Scope: Ballet 422

Collaboration and teamwork combine for a big show

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 29, 2015 -- I have often thought that if government was run like a professional baseball team, it would run a lot better than it does. After seeing this film, I think both government and other businesses could learn a lot from the way a ballet is put together. A ballet is an impressive example of collaboration and teamwork to bring together a lot of different elements.

I have zero interest in ballet, but this film held my interest because it isn't so much about ballet itself, as much as it is about all the people involved in creating and presenting a ballet, and how they all work together to create the finished product. As the old song goes, there is no business like show business, and that fact is on display in this documentary film.

The central figure in this film is Justin Peck, 25, a dancer in the lowest rank (the Corps de Ballet) of the 91 dancers in the New York City Ballet. This film isn't about his dancing, it is about his choreography. He is choreographing the 422nd new ballet for the company in 2013 when this was filmed. There are no voice-overs in this movie, but there are some intertitles to explain some of what is happening. The story is mostly pure visual and conversational.

Peck is shown working out the steps and moves for the new Ballet, “Paz de La Jolla,” in a practice gym, as well as using written notations and diagrams to illustrate the dance moves. The music for the ballet, “Sinfonietta La Jolla,” is very lively, composed long ago by Bohuslav Martinu.

Peck works directly with the dancers, as well as a dance instructor. Dancers give him feedback and suggestions about various dance moves. Some of these suggestions are incorporated into the choreography. Tinkering with dance moves continues, seemingly, right up to the last minute.

Peck also works with clothing designers on the costumes, all designed and made in house. Here too, Peck seeks feedback, not only from the costume designers, but the wardrobe people and the dancers themselves to make sure the costumes are functional, as well as good-looking. Peck also works with another, unrelated Peck, the very gifted ballerina Tiler Peck.

Justin Peck also works with the lighting designers on how best to light the ballet, and he works with the orchestra on the music. He takes advice given him at one point that he should give a short pep talk to the orchestra, and a bit of a pat on the back for a job well done at rehearsal, so he does that.

All this tinkering, polishing and adjustments continue to be made right up to the premiere performance. Right after Peck takes his bows after the very well-received premiere of his new ballet, he goes directly to his dressing room to get ready for his own dance performance in the chorus of the next ballet. Like I said, there is no business like show business. This is quite a show. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)