The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Intersection of Film and Music

Last night I watched a magnificent documentary:  The Ballet Russes

Documentary DVD
by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine
1hr. 58min.

The legendary Ballet Russes (which was actually at least 3 different companies over time, if not four) was known for innovative, startlingly inventive stagings.  The mainstream interest in ballet that has culminated in films like The Turning Point and Black Swan was all begun by the two competing touring companies of Ballet Russes dancers during the early half of the 1900s.  The intersection of visual art, music and dance were undeniable as artists like Dali and Matisse designed sets and costumes, and Leonide Massine shocked the classical music world by using symphonic masterpieces for ballet scores for the first time (for a while called "Symphonic Ballet"). 

The film-maker's timing was exceptional:  the story is told by the now-elderly dancers themselves, many of them carrying the narrative with their recollections combined with hind-sight, witty and full of the awe from the front of the footlights and the back-stage back-stories.  All this, and the first Native Americans and African-American ballerina to tour the U.S. make this thought provoking viewing, informative and a real 5-course-meal for the senses.  I knew of the company for it's visual impact and it's influence; I had no idea that I would end up being so emotionally moved by this masterful DVD documentary. 

For more information on the film, click here:

It's worth many viewings and will make you want to explore more about the Ballet Russes.
Kara Dahl Russell

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