Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frederick Wiseman Ballet Documentary on PBS

Set aside two hours for a date with La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris, Frederick Wiseman's masterpiece about one of the world's greatest ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet. The exquisite verite film is airing on PBS's Great Performances on Wednesday June 16 at 9 pm EST, with a repeat performance on Friday, June 18. (Or (check local listings).

 PHOTO: Nicholas Le Riche and Laetitia Pujol in 'The Nutcracker.' Courtesy Zipporah Films

The ever-brilliant Wiseman uses his camera to observe daily classes, rehearsals, and performances, and to explore the company's sumptuous home, the Palais Garnier opera house, with its gilded corridors, velvet-clad theater and Marc Chagall ceiling, and its ancient labyrinthine underground chambers and brightly lit rehearsal studios. But best of all, Wiseman bears witness to the ballet's cadre of remarkably gifted and disciplined young dancers, spending time in rehearsals and watching the performances of Nicolas Le Riche, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Agnès Letestu and others performing seven ballets, including: Genus by Wayne McGregor, Paquita by Pierre Lacotte, The Nutcracker by Rudolf Nureyev, Medea by Angelin Preljocaj, The House of Bernarda Alba by Mats Ek, Romeo and Juliet by Sasha Waltz, and Orpheus and Eurydyce by Pina Bausch. La Danse is Wiseman's 38th film in a career that has spanned 40 years of documentary filmmaking. If you can't make the broadcast, you can still enjoy the trailer.

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