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films: la danse – creating a cheat sheet

By Rosie Gaynor

The first time I watched “La Danse” I was content to let it wash over me, not knowing which ballet was which. But before I see it again on Sunday, I’d like to have a better sense of what it is that I’m watching. So, I did a little internet research… Here’s my best guess as to which ballet is which. If you have any corrections, please put them in the comments section. Thanks! (All pix are screenshots from the Frederick Wiseman film.)

Nureyev’s “Nutcracker”
Looks like “Swan Lake” to me, but it’s “Nutcracker.” The nice thing about “Nutcracker” is that much of the music is well known that it’s easier to identify scenes from that ballet. For that reason, I’ve only included this one shot.

Paquita by Pierre Lacotte
I.d. this ballet by its ultra-classical steps and beautiful épaulement…plus ornate costumes and a huge, old-fashioned set…or by the cruel commentary during staging?

“Le Songe de Medée” by Angelin Preljocaj

To i.d. this bloody piece, look for buckets or a huge tree branch. Preljocaj, the choreographer, is shown in striped sweatpants in the first photo. Later on there’s a stager as well. Does anybody know his name? He appears pretty frequently in the movie working on other pieces, so possibly he’s a ballet master?

Angelin Preljocaj is choreographer and artistic director of the Ballet Preljocaj. We’ve seen his work in Seattle, earlier this season at UW World Series.
Link to his company website.
Link to a review.

“Romeo et Juliette” by Sasha Waltz

Did anybody see the choreographer in the film? I missed her. I also didn’t see too much of the ballet in rehearsal; maybe I missed it…

“Genus” by Wayne McGregor
To i.d. the piece, listen for choreographer Wayne McGregor’s British accent and uncanny ability to recreate the pops and clicks of this work’s music. In the first photo, McGregor is in striped sweatpants. Photos #3 & #4 show the costumes.

McGregor is artistic director of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, resident company at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. He’s also Resident Choreographer of the Royal Ballet (appointed 2006) and the government’s first Youth Dance Champion (appointed 2008).
Link to his company’s website.
Link to a review of “Genus”premiere

Emmanuel Gat with Paris Opera Ballet Director Brigitte Lefèvre
I wish we’d gotten to see what Gat did with this company. I’ve only seen one piece of his—”Winter Variations”—but I loved it.

“House of Bernarda” by Mats Ek

Mats Ek is a Swedish choreographer, formerly artistic director of the Cullberg Ballet. I couldn’t find any great links, but check out his “Swan Lake” image…scroll down to 1987 on Cullberg’s site.

Is this Mats Ek? It kind of looks like it to me, but if it is…Bernarda, what are all these men doing in your house? Anybody know what they’re dancing here? The music includes organs. Boy, this fellow can sure dance. [Thanks, Debra Levine, for confirming that this fellow is Ek. They’re rehearsing “Un sorte de…”]

Anybody know who this gent is with Mme Lefèvre?

Any i.d. on this ballet or this woman (in striped pants)? [Thanks, Debra Levine, for identifying her as Pina Bausch’s rehearsal assistant.]

I missed the Orphée and Eurydice by Pina Bausch…Can anyone point us in the right direction?

Mystery #1

[Actually, I think this is Dominique Mercy running a rehearsal…it matches a photo of him here with Pina Bausch. That would make this a rehearsal of “Orphée et Eurydice,” I’m guessing, which fits the vocal music you can hear in the background in this scene.] [Thanks, Jessica from On the Boards, for your comment: “I’m 95% sure that that is indeed Dominique Mercy. I just saw him in Masurca Fogo and think that I also recognize him from various Pina pictures. Maybe also reference this clip fom Nelken – He was (and is) a beautifully skilled dancer.” Looks like we know who this mystery man is now.]

Mystery #2

Mystery #3
[Thanks, Debra Levine, for identifying the man in front as Pierre Lacotte… So this would be a scene from Paquita then.]

And the bees!!!

Debra Levine, who answered some of the questions above, is a dance writer in L.A. Here are links to her two articles on Wiseman. On ArtsMeme
On AFI Fest Daily News

More Mysteries…
In the comments below, Sandy mentions “The tall atheletic woman absolutely blew me away (she kind of looked like Karin von Aroldingen).” So sad that I never saw Aroldingen…or that I have to resort to matching up “Étoiles” images with “La Danse” to figure out who’s who… Anyway, here’s what we’ve got. Both gorgeous dancers, but so different! Images on the left are screenshots from “Étoiles.” Images on the right are promo shots for “La Danse” by Laurent Philippe.

Marie-Agnes Gillot

Agnes Letestu (with Mathieu Ganio)