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Review: La Danse: Le Ballet de L'Opéra de Paris

Tough love from Frederick Wiseman
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  December 9, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars

 

Frederick Wiseman's documentary is a love letter to Paris, to the Palais Garnier opera house (the Bastille gets a cameo), and the Paris Opera Ballet. But for both company and audience, it's tough love, in Wiseman's usual fashion: no ID of the dancers (apart from the odd first name), no ID of any of the seven works they rehearse and perform (apart from what you see on placards), few subtitles. 

READDocumentary man, an interview with Frederick Wiseman, By Tom Meek.

Wiseman's camera wanders upstairs, downstairs, backstage, and even to the Garnier's rooftop apiary; we see painters and janitors (all black), we visit the cafeteria (steam-table broccoli even in Paris), we listen in as the staff discuss a lunch for benefactors. The rehearsals seem to emphasize illustrating the choreographer's idea (as opposed to letting the dancers dance), and when Medea pours blood over her children in Angelin Preljocaj's Le songe de Médée or the women start screaming in Mats Ek's La maison de Bernarda, Wiseman is apt as not to cut back to the sunlit city.

  Topics: Reviews , Entertainment, Entertainment, Paris,  More more >
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