Great Performances “La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris” on WXXI-TV

Great Performances “La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris” on WXXI-TV

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Members of the Paris Opera Ballet rehearse The Nutcracker

Credit: ©Idéale Audience-Zipporah Films-France 2009

An insider's look at the Paris Opera Ballet.

For his 38th film in a career spanning more than 40 years, master documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman turns his attention to one of the world’s greatest ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet. Observing daily classes, rehearsals and performances, the camera roams the vast Palais Garnier opera house, the company’s opulent home: from its chandelier-laden corridors to its labyrinthine underground chambers, from its light-filled rehearsal studios to its luxurious theater replete with 2,200 scarlet velvet seats and Marc Chagall ceiling. “La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris” devotes most of its time to watching young men and women — among them Nicolas Le Riche, Marie-Agnès Gillot and Agnès Letestu — rehearsing and/or performing seven ballets, including: Genus by Wayne McGregor, Paquita by Pierre Lacotte, The Nutcracker by Rudolf Nureyev, Medea by Angelin Preljocaj, The House of Bernarda Alba by Mats Ek, Romeo and Juliet by Sasha Waltz and Orpheus and Eurydyce by Pina Bausch.

Great Performances “La Danse: Le Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris” airs Wednesday, June 16 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT 21.1/cable 1011 and 11)

Wiseman, widely praised for his observational documentary films, has had a long and prolific career. His oeuvre includes Titicut Follies, High School, Basic Training, Public Housing, Domestic Violence and Ballet (about the American Ballet Theater). Critic Philip Lopate has called Wiseman “the greatest American filmmaker of the last 30 years.”

Of his desire to make a film about the Paris Opera Ballet, Wiseman says, “Since movies are about movement, I wanted to make a movie about a group of dancers and choreographers who represent the highest level of achievement in the conscious use of the body to express feeling and thought. I have great admiration for the dancers, choreographers, administrators, and technicians at the Paris Opera Ballet and welcomed this opportunity to film them at work.”