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Ballet 422 is a record of the creative process of a young choreographer Justin Peck, just 26 years old, hired to create a new ballet for the winter season of the New York City Ballet in 2013. The New York City Ballet is considered one of the best companies in the world. Since 1990 he is led by Peter Martins, his Ballet Master in Chief. The documentary describes the intense backstage work that takes place during the process of creating and learning this new ballet: "Paz de la Jolla". It shows Peck working with his fellow dancers (Justin Peck is also a soloist at NYCB!), with musicians, lighting technicians, and costume designers in the composition of a new work, his third creation for the NYCB. It is the first time the New York City Ballet is exposed during the creation of a new a ballet.Written by
Great dancers deserve to be filmed by a competent director and crew. Unfortunately, this did not happen in "Ballet 422."
I have had the good fortune to have seen hundreds of live performances; have watched hundreds more on TV, laserdiscs, and DVD; and have myself filmed over a hundred ballet performances. I therefore know a little about both the art of ballet, and the techniques for recording it.
(P.S., I am also married to a ballet dancer.)
What I have found over the past forty years is that there are no right ways to film a ballet, or a documentary about ballet, but there sure are a lot of wrong ways.
This film seems to be an exercise in finding every possible wrong way to photograph dancers. Here are some examples:
* The camera person seems to have an aversion to feet. Virtually every shot cuts off the dancers' feet and lower torsos, and by tilting the camera to far upwards, gives us vast, pointless shots of the ceiling.
* I don't think I have ever seen an extended dancing scene in which the dancer is shown out of frame, with her arms occasionally appearing in the shot, only to disappear again. I am all for artistic shots, but if you're going to take a chance at doing something different, MAKE IT WORK!! This was just stupid and most definitely did not work.
* Whoever edited this has no sense of continuity. They also don't understand when to begin and end a shot. This movie could be used in an editing class to show exactly what NOT to do when editing.
* The lighting is awful. Yes, I know it is a documentary, and much of it is shot with available light. However, I also know that many of the shots required setup and WERE lit, or at least some attempt was made at lighting.
* The ending shots, where the movies should come together is a completely pointless series of juxtapositions that make absolutely no sense.
I don't think I have ever seen such an incompetent production, and this includes some high school films done by first-year students.
The only reason I give it three stars instead of one is that the solo dancing is absolutely wonderful (although the group dancing is pretty sloppy and lacks coordination).
So, if you do rent this, make sure you have a fast forward that works, and just watch the dancing and skip all the pointless and useless and incompetent footage that adds nothing but bloated, pointless time.
Jody Lee Lipes (the director and main camera person) should not ever again be allowed anywhere near a camera, not even the one in his cellphone.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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