I watched Ballet 422 the other day,
You know, the one where the camera follows Justin Peck around while he creates the 422nd new work for the New York City Ballet.
Mr. Adult Beginner was in the room, but mostly not paying attention to the movie, so I kept shouting things out to him,
Like, “Oh my god, these wishy-washy theater types are driving me insane,” and he’d be like, “Good that the movie is giving an acurate portrayal though, I mean, you know that’s exactly how theater is.”
He’s right too, I do know, that is totally how it is, theater gets made through a series of “I think….?” and “maaaaaaaaybe….?” and a bunch of feelings and metaphors and vague gestures, but the really interesting thing about theater and apparently dance too is that there’s a certain, like, tipping point where ideas go from Vague to Definite. Metaphors become decisions and decisions become instructions, and it’s not just a tipping point, it’s a tipping person, and that person is the the one right in the middle of the chain of command, between the creators and the people who actually build the show.
Basically its the person who takes in soft ideas and gives out hard instructions.
It was really interesting to me, watching this movie and thinking about how important this Tipping Person is in the process of producing live art. I mean, an inspiration is not a specific thing with measurements and dimensions, but reality is, so to get your art to travel from inspiration to reality, you need that middle person who speaks both metaphor and measurement.
Look out for that, Gentle Reader, when you see the movie, look out for that point in the process where things tip from being ideas to being lines on paper and scoops of dye in a dye-bath and cues and steps.
I thought it was interesting to see how often the dancers were asking for specifics, not feelings. I mean, actually, I can’t remember any time a dancer ask for a nuance, only for specifics in timing and steps and where is my weight, while the lighting dude was all, “maybe a little softer…..?” and someone a little further along his chain of command was translating his soft words into “knock it down ten percent.”
It’s an interesting movie. It made me feel a little sad, which is maybe just my own state of mind a little: it’s been a not-super-dancey spring for me: between everyone catching colds and me gathering bizarre ailments (ankle impingement? What do you mean I have to stop sitting on my heels with the fronts of my feet crushed into the cold hard floor? I thought I was invincible! This sucks!) I’ve missed a lot of class and been kinda shocked at how out of practice I am when I actually do get to class.
Where did all that muscle memory go? And all that strength? I thought I was invincible! This sucks!
One of the sad parts was seeing how rarely Justin Peck smiled throughout the film. I shouted that observation out to my husband and he called back, “I think his face is just like that.”
The new work is not shown to us in the movie, which I found to be a super anti-climax but not super surprising. Seems to be how they do things at NYCB. What did surprise me was the further anticlimax of Justin Peck having to basically run through the dressing rooms to congratulate his dancers, then run up to his own room, dress, and head back down to stage to dance another piece.
I mean, maybe that is exhilarating for dancers, to get to be both choreographer and dancer in the same night. It is what they love and want to be doing, right? I don’t know. I think I would want to, like, revel in seeing my work performed a little more, like luxuriate in it a little. Roll around in it, enjoy it, process it.
Also noted: the scene where Peck goes to visit with the orchestra is super awkward.
The conductor sets it up for maximum awkwardness, and Peck delivers, poor guy.
The little outfit of striped shortie-shorts and tiny retro-bathing suit top is adorbs.
I liked all the costumes for the dance piece a lot. Would’ve loved to have seen more of them.
Tyler Peck is adorbs. Nice to see someone smile.
Is there no smiling in the ballet? Or was I just watching with my Sad Eyes?
Tyler Peck danced with her sash like it wasn’t there, like didn’t fuss around with it or let it get in her way or insist that they shorten it. Costumer High-Five to you, Ms. Peck.
FLAGRANT gusset flashing though. Lolz.
Felt for that one girl who kept opening her arms out in the wrong direction in that one rehearsal scene. Been there girl. I mean, on a way lower level of course, but been there when everyone’s looking and you can’t seem to do it right.
I liked seeing how Justin Peck corrected her, just kept saying “No, this,” like, didn’t get angry or impatient. He seems like a good guy.
Did you see Ballet 422 Gentle Reader? Whadjya think?
We watched The Untouchables the night after Ballet 422. Both good. Not very similar.
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