Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rise of Ballet in Popular Culture

Over the last couple of years there has been a real interest in ballet, especially now that the Bolshoi season is shown in full at PictureHouse Theatres as well as at Odeons.

Love Tomorrow (Christopher Payne)

For years the cinema has been attacked as the cultural younger brother of Opera, Theatre and Ballet – a mass culture format to entertain the masses that can’t afford the more expensive high arts.  Yet every now and then a film arrives that celebrates high art within the popular medium – so to celebrate the arrival of Love Tomorrow on DVD (available here), here are some of the finer examples:

The Red Shoes – 1948
The classic from the almighty British directorial duo Powell & Pressburger (Powell would later go on to direct Peeping Tom), tells the dark story of a young ballerina who must devote her entire energy to a charismatic director instead of her love interest, the composer of “The Red Shoes”, a brand new ballet.  The film is an early example of ballet infiltrating the cinema and providing a spectacle as the eponymous shoes become sentient and do the dancing for the protagonist, Vicky.

Billy Elliot – 2000
This turn of the century success managed to perfectly intertwine an ambitious dream of a young boy interested in dance, with a gritty urban tale of industrial action in County Durham.  The final shots of the grown up Billy finally getting his 
break are enough to incite tears throughout the audience.

Black Swan – 2010
The latest film to combine high art with pulp-fiction thrills was the Oscar winning Black Swan, a kind of postmodern remake of The Red Shoes with the animate shoes that force Vicky to dance being replaced with an entirely different metamorphosis / affliction…

Love Tomorrow – 2013
Love Tomorrow tells a more realistic and dramatic story about dancers in London:  A love story that uses the language of dancing/ballet to enrich the emotional narrative.

Love Tomorrow is out on DVD now.

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