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 Post subject: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2001 4:46 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Misa's post in another thread suggested this to me........<P>As dancers/teachers/lovers of dance we often complain about how movies about dance is portrayed.<P>If you were in charge how would you make a movie about dance? <P> What values would you incorporate? <P> Would it be most important to make it authentic - showing the warts and all? <P> Or would you rather show it as we would like it to look to the audience?<P>What does a movie about dance and dancers have to have in it to please you?<P>(If someone thinks that this belongs in "issues" - then please move it there, thanks.)


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 12:54 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Ooh Good one Basheva.<P>I will reply briefly at present and then come back later when I have had time to think more.<P>This may not be the stuff of Hollywood legends and maybe considered too boring by todays high tech standards but I think it would be nice to see a film about an ordinary everyday ballet class that doesn't just focus on the talented one but examines all those other pupils that we get - the ones that don't find dance easy but really work hard and are delighted when they achieve. The ones that find dance easy and couldn't really care less. The ones that are forced to come by parents. The ones that come to perhaps help with a certain medical condition or perhaps in spite of a medical condition. Follow each of these in the class and outside of class. Perhaps see how they build up to an important exam or something.<P>We have enough anecdotes on these boards to make it humorous and enough real life experiences to show that the type of people mentioned above are regular attendees at our classes.


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 1:59 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
It depends what sort of film it's going to be - Hollywood big budget or independent. My preference would be for the latter, unless it could be someone like John Boorman or Jonathan Demme who can produce high quality, individualistic work within the Studio sytem. <P>For a theme, I'd like something along the lines of 'All That Jazz', or better still, 'Meeting Venus' both of which gave some idea about what it is like to make a musical and an opera, respectively. So, something about a choreographer/AD making a ballet with his own concerns and those of the Company and its staff running alongside. We already have a very good dancer focussed film in 'The Red Shoes'. <P>One based on MacMillan would be great - plenty of personal angst, ridiculed and pilloried in the US and unquestionably the best UK choreographer of the 20th Century (only a wind-up, I should have written 'IMO' instead of 'unquestionably').<P>I like your idea Joanne, but wonder whether it would be better as a documentary about a real class.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited January 05, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 6:04 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Interesting that no one has mentioned "The Turning Pointe" - that was one of my favorites.<P>I like Joanne's summary of the kinds of students we have in class and the problems they bring and solutions they find (or don't find). <P>As for this "leading up to an exam or something important" - I am not sure about that. The "exam or something important" could be something important in their own minds. Or it could be a school performance which takes on great importance in their minds.<P>Ultimately, however, I think that it has to deal with only a very few people since we all relate better to a small group than to a large group. This would affect how the audience responds - how the movie involves the audience.<P>But, I really like Joanne's idea of a class of real life individuals, like we all see and the problems they encounter.<P>But, going a bit more to Stuart's idea - how about a movie on the life of Ninette de Valvois? Or something on those lines......she was certainly a pioneer and dealt with many, many problems and ultimately triumphed.


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 6:07 am 
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Location: USA
I'll spend some time thinking on this. What I would want to avoid is the over-stereotyping of characters and issues in order to simplify the content as if that was the only way to make it accessible to an audience's emotions and understanding.


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 9:37 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
I take your point Stuart about the story of a class working better as a documentary, in a fictional situation the "real" characters we encounter almost always end up as stereotypes of the real thing.<P>The problem with documentaries in the UK and I suspect in the US as well, is that in recent years they have all turned into the media created "docusoap" and are unfortunately not taken as seriously anymore.<P>I too feel if you were looking at a class you would have to focus on a small group of at the most 4- characters need to be built up for the audience to emphathise with. The reason I suggested an important event is to give a focus, an event to build towards and something common to all the characters involved.<P>As far as biography film moving away from Ballet maybe a look at one of the Hollywood greats like Astaire or Kelly - could make for some great production numbers and would show the glamour and hard work of dance - both were hard task-masters. As you can probably tell I am a theatre dance junkie more so than a ballet one.<P>I suppose the problem with biopics is that there will always be someone who says that is not how it really was, or is unhappy with the casting of their favourite dancer - and in casting someone to play the likes of Astaire or Kelly - could you ever find someone to come close to filling their shoes (although i saw a production of Singin'in the Rain this week at the National where a dancer called Paul Robinson did an excellent job in the Kelly role).<P>It is a tricky one - we all want to do dance justice.


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 9:44 am 
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Location: neworleans, louisiana
Last year my class went with our teacher to "Center Stage." (Actually, I went on my own with my fiance, as I don't like to get all 'googly' about something with a lot of other people). In any event, my very-old-school-but-still-broadminded teacher enjoyed the film at face value, but was most troubled by the film not adequately depicting what made ABT class different from any other class at any other school or studio. <P>One criticism I remember reading (I'm nearly positive it was by a critic with no dance experience) was that in the jazz dance class scene, everyone just instantly knew the combination. I thought that was one of the most trite criticisms to make of the whole picture. Fact is, we've got a jazz dance class taught by a Tommy Tune-ish type in town who stars in a lot of musical theater and taken by many musical theater types, and the combinations are pretty much that way -- sink or swim -- which makes the class, I think, a lot more exciting and challeging.<P>I think Liza's movie, "Steppin Out" is fun with its group of all too human characters, and a pretty wonderful solo piece by a younger, healthier Liza. <P>Sometimes I love dance a lot more when it's not in a dance movie -- more like a pleasant surprise, such as Steve Martin's brilliance when he's teaching Rick Moranis' character to loosen up in a Latin number in that dang movie I can never remember the name of (help!). And Martin Short kills me during the aerobic dance number in "Father of the Bride Part Two." <P>I've also enjoyed watching the likes of Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, and Christopher Walken do some pretty impressive hoofing on "The Actor's Studio." <P>And what about the piece that Stanley Donen choreographed for Bruce Willis and partner for a dream sequence in an episode of "Moonlighting"? <P>Incidentally, my one 'claim to fame' in dancing in a movie was being hired and directed by the dour Neil Jordan for "Interview With A Vampire" -- and the next question is certainly -- "Christina, I don't remember there being any dancing in that movie." (All that durned auditioning and rehearsing for 30 seconds of a minuet).


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 11:09 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I have seen some very interesting dance done by Charlie Chaplin in his movies - he was a great fan of the ballet, the Ballet Russe in particular.<P>As for documentaries, my favorites are "Children of Theater Street" and "Backstage at the Kirov" - I have both tapes. <P>In addition to the story lines of dance in movies - is the way dance is filmed in movies. <P>Horror stories abound there.......


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 Post subject: Re: If You Were the Director.................
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 4:40 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
More thoughts.........<P>I think those of us so closely associated with dance might want to see things in a movie that the general public might not.<P>One of the things that REALLY bothers me about a dance movie is when it is not accurate - but does the general public know what is inaccurate or even care that much?<P>Many of us could probably get really excited about watching a film of the Bolshoi Ballet Company taking company class on a weekday morning - but that would hardly excite "normal" movie goers.<P>Perhaps the makers of dance films are in a no-win situation?


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