Switzerland and Cuba collaborated on this entry to the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. Billed as an "observational documentary," I found this one to be just a tad overwrought: too many lingering scenes of a person walking, super-close closeups of a person thinking, scenic shots of clouds scudding across the skyline. . .

Because it is about ballet dancers, much of the focus is on feet and legs: bloody blisters, doctor's visits, flexibility training, etc., but it is also about discipline: not only adherence to training instructions and schedules, but the self control not to talk back when one's patience must surely be taxed.

We are with la gran dama of The National Ballet of Cuba, Alicia Alonzo, who continues to instruct, despite being blind for decades. Her students and assistants are endlessly patient and respectful of her blunt style but we can see she knows every note of every ballet.  She had successful surgery a few years back, but it is clear that she is, once again, blind. At the time of the filming (2015), she was 94.

We see numerous clips from her youth, doing endless pirouettes, taking slow-motion curtain calls, appearing in "This is Your Life" on American television and accepting honors bestowed on her by Fidel Castro for her unwavering dedication to Communism.

In addition, we see one student, Amanda de Jesus Perez Duarte preparing for an audition to the corps and a budding prima ballerina, Viengsay Valdez preparing for her lead role in "Swan Lake." As a bonus, we also see a couple of clips of her rehearsing "Coppélia."

I found the camera work to be a bit too "artistic," and the pace to be wearying; I DID however, enjoy some of the ballet and I always appreciate it when updates about the principals are included in the closing credits. Thanks!