Ballet 422

In this documentary, submitted by the USA to the 2014 Seattle Inter- national Film Festival, we watch as dancer/choreographer Justin Peck develops New York City Ballet's 422nd original piece. The NYCB is quite the enterprise, it has over 90 dancers, a full orchestra, a costume shop and its own venue. Justin is one of the 50 dancers that constitute their basic Corps de Ballet.

Director Jody Lee Lipes takes us backstage as we watch the complicated process over a two-month period, from his first experimental steps by himself, then working with the three principal dancers, then a full cast, and finally his premiere. He gets an important tip from the orchestra conductor: Thank the musicians and tell them how important they are to the success of the evening. (BTW, after the premiere, he dashes downstairs, takes off his suit and puts on his costume because he is in the third ballet on the program as a member of the Corps de Ballet.)

I found this to be interesting, but mostly to fans of "the process," because we see snippets of dance, hear a brilliant rehearsal pianist always on the job, see costume designers discuss fabric before they dye it, watch the fittings, the light design, the orchestra rehearsal, and then opening night. We never see the entire ballet (probably a copyright issue), nor do we see or hear the audience's reaction or discover what the critics said.

Bottom line, to me this entire documentary was very "arms' length" emotionally, consequently I didn't connect with it at all. I hasten to add, however, that this would be the decision of the director and the editor, not the performers.