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Rated 2.98 stars
by 459 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Fascinating Dance Footage
by Diana Saenger

Many kinds of groups have reunions, but in 2002 one such reunion in New Orleans marked an extraordinary gathering of people from the early world of ballet. Ballets Russes is a documentary that uses archival footage and interviews conducted in 2002 to detail what life in the ballet was like in the 1930s.

Covering Sergei Diaghilev’s famous Ballet Russe era of the 1930s, the film is mostly about two Russian Ballet companies in competition with each other. The second company originated from members who broke off from Ballet Russe and named itself The Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo – thus the plural title of the film.

In the archival footage put together by directors Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, we learn about some of the great ballet artists in early Europe, such as choreographers George Balanchine and Leonide Massine; the "Baby Ballerinas" Tatiana Riabouchinska, Tamara Toumanova and Irina Baronova); dancers George Zoritch, Maria Tallchief, Alicia Markova, Mia Slavenska, Nathalie Krassovska and Yvonne Chouteau; producer Frederick Franklin; and collaborators such as Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali.

Although some of these interviews seem a bit lackluster at times, the former ballerinas’ spirits are never dull -- and each one can still do a step or two and more. Ballets Russes is a delightful film for dancers or for anyone who appreciates the arts. (Capsule review.)

(Released by Zeitgeist Films; not rated by MPAA.)

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