Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crushing On: {NY Export: Opus Jazz}

I am so excited about this that I started writing this post before the film was even over...

You may remember my strange relationship with dance. Though I love it, I have always thought of it as a supplement to acting and singing. I understand it as a stand alone art form, and can enjoy it as such... but I saw something today that really helped make it "real" for me. 

Not having cable has its pros and cons. Sure, I can't watch all those Cable channel shows that are all the rage, and having a big pair of rabbit ears in my living room isn't exactly aesthetically pleasing... but sometimes its helps me tear away from the TV and dive into other exciting (or necessary) projects on my to do list. And today, it helped me find Dance In America: NY Export: Opus Jazz, part of the Great Performances series. Nothing else was on, so I wandered over to channel Thirteen- and I'm so glad that I did.

NY Export: Opus Jazz (The Film)

more photos here

 This dance performance, by the late Jerome Robbins (best known for West Side Story), was originally choreographed in the 1950's (a time and style that I adore) but was recently filmed with the most current and time-proof themes in mind: urban teenage love and life. 

Photo from here

There's no wonder that Opus Jazz seems more relevant to me than more traditional forms of the art. Here's a great excerpt from Thirteen's site:

Despite all the success and visibility of its debut, the intervening decades have found Opus Jazz infrequently performed. The concept of taking this little-seen ballet and adapting it for the screen in a modern, real-world context was the brainchild of two New York City Ballet soloists, who, while dancing the ballet, found that it had urban themes and a contemporary relevance that spoke to them. “Sean and I danced Opus Jazz at the New York City Ballet revival in 2005,” explains Bar. “We thought the ballet seemed a bit dated in its 1950’s trappings, but the themes that came out in the dancing — the energy and raw emotion of urban youth — were just as relevant today as they were then.” Mr. Suozzi adds that because the ballet is danced in sneakers, instead of toe shoes, it seemed especially fitting to be filmed on location. “We decided to put our dancers in regular clothes, instead of costumes,” says Suozzi. “It makes the dance even more accessible. Ballet doesn’t have to be a mysterious art form — it’s our most natural, visceral expression.”
Need more encouragement to watch this ballet film? Watch this:

It's true. This makes ballet sexy. And real. And gorgeous. And normal. And tangible. And inspiring. And part of everyday life. And it combines the art of dance, with the art of the cinema, and beautifully so.

And one of my favorite movements:

I'm in love! 

View another great video here

And, even better- following the film there is a short documentary centering around Jerome Robbins and his work, and the dancers in the NY City Ballet company (who performed in the film). I love having the insider's guide into what inspires someone to make art, or what drives people to create. It's truly a captivating process.

Added bonus: If you are a NYC resident, you'll drool over the film's locations, and remember just how cool our city really looks.




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