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Ballets Russes

Ballets Russes

Director:Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine
Release Date:2006

By Bret McCabe | Posted 2/1/2006

If this charming documentary is any proof, dancers age better than any other artist types out there—just try to find a cadre of octogenarians as lively, active, and attractive as the former members of the world-famous Ballets Russes interviewed here. During the 1920s, Sergei Diaghilev’s Paris-based Ballets Russes established the ballet standard in the post-Bolshevik world, but the company—and to many critics, dance itself—died with him in 1929. Ballets Russes follows the hubris, joy, melodrama, and controversy that accompanied two entrepreneurs restarting the company in the 1930s with the imaginative flair of dancer visionaries Leonid Massine and George Balanchine, who had the headstrong gumption to make a trio of unknown teenage girls the company’s stars. Directors Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine navigate the company’s meandering rebirth through interviews with the spry surviving members of the troupe, a tale that takes the troupe around Europe, Australia, and North and South America, alighting ballet fever in young dancers everywhere. That success is witnessed in young dancers who felt blessed just to appear in Ballets Russes’ chorus—such as Yvonne Craig, better known as the late-’60s television’s Batgirl. Forgive Geller and Goldfine for adoring their subjects a little too much early in the movie—by its end, you will be, too.

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