Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Business as Usual

So today, I taught company class.
I normally teach on Fridays, but Robin had a schedule conflict today and I have one on Friday, so we switched.

Just as I thought, posting that I would finish the invite for the Auction forced me to do so. That being done, I can now move one of the myriad of other things I need to do forward.

Today's main duty is attendance at a San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture event.

They are releasing the results of a Youth Involvement in the Arts survey. The good news is that it is happening here at the NTC. One building away. So I can just take a small jaunt over there.

I always try to sit in the front with my San Diego Ballet sweatshirt. I also like to smile at the presenters. It unnerves them. It is how I get my malicious jollies. "Okay! Entertain me!"

Afterwards, there is usually a question and answer round table thing, another opportunity for vigorous dialogue. I used to be shy about speaking up at these things. (I am still painfully shy around people, but in my public capacity I have gotten over that. You gotta do, what you gotta do.) So anyway, I try to make sure, no I MAKE sure, my voice is heard.

Let's get it over with.

The Red Shoes by Powell and Pressburger.

It was made at a time when "serious" dance had not been filmed much. So they were learning as they were going. It isn't my favorite Powell and Pressburger film (that would be Black Narcissus), but it may be their most important one. Coincidentally, it is also one of Martin Scorsese's favorite films.

This was THE ballet movie that made thousands of little girls rush to ballet schools to devote their lives to dance. Given the fact that the heroine of the movie doesn't necessarily come to a happy end, that says a lot for the power of seeing dance on the screen. Now, when watching this movie, you really have to remember that dance technique has come along way in 60 years. In comparison, think of Olympic athletes. Compare the gymnasts, track athletes, figure skaters of today to those of the 30's.

That said, there are some wonderful qualities that you can see in the dance in this film.

Moira Shearer was a soloist with the Royal Ballet when she was offered the role of Vicki, the girl who was consumed by dance. She almost didn't take it, but the company director told her to "do it so that the producers of the movie would stop bugging them." Shearer herself doesn't love her performance in the movie. She prefers her dancing in Tales of Hoffmann (a later Powell and Pressburger film.) That said, she is lovely in technicolor wafting around in Robert Helpmann's overwrought choreography.

The movie itself deals with the backstage intrigues of a ballet company. A ballet company based on the traveling Ballet Russes. The ballet master was played by one of the stars of the Ballet Russes, Leonide Massine.

The big moment comes with the actual Red Shoes ballet at the center of the film. Now, it is very important that you have listened to everything that the actors have said before this (and every image that the director has given you.) Because while the ballet actually takes place on a stage, it then goes into the dancers mind. So we see her dancing through her feelings and memories.

So when you watch it, you have to remember that there are some effects that are not meant to be literal.

Shoes stand on their own and as she jumps into them they lace themselves up automatically ( a startling effect.) It is meant to be. It is meant to make you realize "Oh, we aren't quite in the real world anymore."

This juxtaposition of real and unreal can be a bit jarring. There are also moments in the ballet where things don't quite seem to make sense.

Why is she dancing with a newspaper?

Why do the dancers turn into clouds and flowers?

What is with the audience that turns into an ocean?

All these things are explained by the dialogue that came BEFORE. So PAY ATTENTION!!!

The end of the movie takes the whole "you cannot have it all" idea to the extreme. I won't divulge too much, but lets just say that theaters shouldn't be built over train tracks.

The Red Shoes really is a movie that needs to be watched twice. Maybe a year or two apart.

If nothing else, you will leave with the memory of Vicky's first discussion with Lermontov the director of the ballet company.

Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
Vicky: Why do you want to live?
Lermontov: I don't know... but somehow I must.
Vicky:... Well, thats my answer too.

Moira Shearer recently passed away in January of 2006

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home