Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ballet 422 - Review

BALLET 422 is all about straightforward storytelling, from its quizzical title (the featured production is the 422nd original work for the New York City Ballet) to director Jody Lee Lipes' "fly on the wall" approach to recording the events transpiring all around the David H. Koch Theater. Those expecting to see major drama and/or creative turmoil will be walking away very disappointed; the documentary does an efficient job showing the entire process of a new ballet production, all envisioned and directed by a 25-year-old who has some brilliance in choreography but is still stuck in the bottom-rung of the company's full-time dance squads. This paradox leads to the film's most striking moment, which shows the NYCB's grueling schedule of operation and the unfortunate reality of the ballet industry. Though the film is a breezy ordeal, clocking in at a tight 75 minutes, and the clean presentation is ideal, it really could have added some more meat to its bones. After the exciting early moments of seeing the work-in-progress dances coming to fruition in the practice room, the film loses focus on its main attraction in order to get to the bigger picture. This gets especially annoying once it reaches its climax and the viewer is unable to see the final production as a whole, only a few highlights and more audience reaction shots. The doc also could have moved beyond its central subject and given a further look at the three elite-level leads and their own lives, doubly so for the Anna Kendrick-looking star dancer, who seems to be the only one perky enough to bring life to the work. Despite some reservations, BALLET 422 is an interesting exploration of a legendary NYC institution and a great service to the art of dance.


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