Thursday, 17 March 2011

I'm riveted by Agony and Ecstasy, this documentary about the English National Ballet ... it's even better than Black Swan.
There's a courageous, 38-year-old ballerina Daria Klimentová - so beautiful, so fragile, but looking so much older than her years as if ballet has sucked her dry - forced against her will to dance Swan Lake for the last time. There's a spotty-faced 20-year-old who is transformed into a prince before our eyes. There are dancers streaming with sweat, bullied by an artistic director who (one hopes) is playing it up for the cameras. There's drama when a prima ballerina fails to arrive in time for the first night. There's bunions that you make flinch at the thought of having to dance on them.
And I was fascinated to see how many injuries were sustained in the fight scenes of Romeo and Juliet ... because last year I went to a fight masterclass at the Royal Ballet where blood was drawn, too. I don't know how many times I've seen that ballet and never realised that dripping gore isn't necessarily make-up.

9 comments:

ramblingfancy said...

Am gripped by this too! Was delighted to find out the project was brainchild of Daniel Jones. Do hope its success is some consolation for dancing again as Tybalt and then getting a hernia. Thought Daria was amazing and only hope she can now swing her pigtails at that ghastly artistic director!

callmemadam said...

Me too! How about the tough attitude of the people who'd worked on the ballet with Nureyev? 'With Rudolf you could hear the blood drip drip drip onto the stage.' Talk about suffering for your art.

mary said...

Ramblingfancy, I didn't realise Daniel Jones was behind it. The look on his face lying on a bed at the end with his hernia, I could have cried for him.
Callmemadam, I know it's sometimes in the editing but the management came across as so chaotic and uncaring of their dancers. Do you like that Nureyev Romeo and Juliet? I've only seen it a couple of times but it doesn't come near MacMillan's.

Darlene said...

My daughter had a friend in elementary school who learned to eat tissues to keep hunger at bay from dancers at the National Ballet. Very sad. And yet I am as riveted as anyone by this art form and hope Agony and Ecstacy makes it over here.

mary said...

Sorry to post links you can't view, Darlene. But what a thing to pass on to a child!

Mystica said...

Sounds awfully difficult, painful and lonely up there at the top.

mary said...

I think the trouble was, Mystica, that they weren't at the top - they were ageing and on the way down, or realising in their 30s that they were never going to make it. It was all heartbreaking.

Vintage Reading said...

I'm addicted to this series, too. Talk about suffering for your art! Ballet is the most demanding discipline. While I found some of Deane's comments too much, I couldn't resist a smile when he told a group of 'swans' to flatten their backs because they looked like turtles!

mary said...

I'm sure he's hamming it up a bit, Nicola ... and I don't suppose dancers run to HR with hurt feelings! The turtles remark was funny ... and it was true, they did!
I still haven't watched this week's episode.