Ballet 422

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Michael Wade Simp­son

Ballet 422 , ballet doc­u­men­tary, rated PG, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 3 chiles

The ti­tle of the doc­u­men­tary di­rected by Jody Lee Lipes, Ballet 422 , refers to the 422nd work choreographed for New York City Ballet. The movie fol­lows the cre­ation of Paz de La Jolla, by Justin Peck, a twenty-five-yearold corps de ballet dancer in the com­pany, who first achieved suc­cess through the NYCB-af­fil­i­ated New York Chore­o­graphic In­sti­tute. He was anointed by The New York Times as “the rare real thing,” af­ter the pre­miere in 2012 of his first main-stage piece for City Ballet, Year of the Rab­bit . Paz

de La Jolla , Peck’s third work for the com­pany, had its first per­for­mance in 2013. Since then, Peck has been pro­moted to soloist, and in 2014 was ap­pointed res­i­dent chore­og­ra­pher of the com­pany.

As a be­hind-the-scenes look at New York City Ballet in ac­tion, Ballet 422 of­fers re­hearsal footage, scenes show­ing cos­tume and light­ing devel­op­ment, orches­tra re­hearsals, and shots of Peck alone in a stu­dio, de­vel­op­ing steps and video­tap­ing him­self with a phone-cam­era propped up on a pi­ano. The doc­u­men­tary ex­ists pri­mar­ily in a vis­ual mode — a re­minder that dance is a non­ver­bal art form. There are no talk­ing heads, and there’s no nar­ra­tion — just a few ti­tles (“One Week to Pre­miere,” for ex­am­ple) and snip­pets of con­ver­sa­tions.

If there is any drama in the film, it is the­o­ret­i­cal — the chore­og­ra­pher’s youth ver­sus the level of re­spon­si­bil­ity be­fore him. One scene fea­tures re­hearsal and per­for­mance pi­anist Cameron Grant telling Peck that the ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing his new piece isn’t be­ing shared by the orches­tra, whose mem­bers ap­par­ently weren’t crazy about the score ( Sin­foni­etta

“La Jolla ,” by Bo­huslav Mart­inu˚). He urged Peck to ap­peal di­rectly to the play­ers be­fore dress re­hearsal, which Peck does, though rather awk­wardly.

The three prin­ci­pal dancers in the piece, Tiler Peck, Ster­ling Hyltin, and Amar Ra­masar, of­fer stunning tech­nique, even in re­hearsal. There is no hold­ing back. They also share a sim­i­larly pos­i­tive, no-non­sense de­meanor, clearly com­fort­able with the young artist in charge. From the chore­og­ra­pher’s side, the harsh­est crit­i­cism he of­fers dur­ing re­hearsal is a com­ment that the move­ment isn’t “crispy” enough.

Paz de La Jolla is shown only for a hand­ful of mo­ments in per­for­mance, as if the direc­tor were avoid­ing any ob­vi­ous pay­off. On the evening of the ballet’s pre­miere, the chore­og­ra­pher is shown rush­ing from the au­di­ence, where he has been watch­ing the per­for­mance in a suit and tie, to the stage, where he takes a bow with the dancers, and then to his dress­ing room, where he gets back into his tights, quickly pre­par­ing to dance in some­one else’s ballet.

El­e­va­tion: chore­og­ra­pher Justin Peck

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