6 Feature Films About Ballet

6 Feature Films About Ballet

At all times, people have shown interest not only in what is happening on the stage. The life of dancers seems even more curious to ordinary people: secrets, gossip, fatal passions and rivalry. The action on stage is mesmerizing; behind the curtain, it is intriguing. This interest has been repeatedly exploited by filmmakers, and we have selected the 6 best (in our opinion) films about ballet and recommend them to watch.

The Red Shoes (1948)

The power of ballet art appears enslaving in the movie. The main character Victoria is a gifted ballerina. She gives all of herself to the stage, but love intervenes. It turns out to be impossible to have both, so a real drama unfolds.

Directors of the film preferred to invite dramatically gifted dancers than dancing actors. Victoria was played by the famous Scottish ballerina Moira Shearer. That is why, the film deserves attention for its choreography too. In 1949, the movie was awarded an Oscar for the Best Art Direction and Best Soundtrack.

The Turning Point (1977)

According to the plot, the paths of two ballet dancers radically diverged. DeeDee abandoned her career in favor of family life, and Emma became a star without finding personal happiness. The conflict between the characters won’t tell you much about the profession of a ballet dancer but rather about eternal human feelings and passions: love, envy, anger, pride and compassion.

Choreographers George Balanchine and Alvin Ailey were in charge of choreography in the movie, and Mikhail Baryshnikov first debuted here as an actor and was subsequently nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Nijinsky (1980)

Another movie directed by Herbert Ross, made upon the high tide of success of The Turning Point, is a biopic about the dramatic fate of Vaslav Nijinsky, a brilliant dancer and leading artist of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. He was called the eighth wonder of the world, the bird-man, serving the stage was crowned for him with worldwide recognition, but didn’t bring him peace of mind. An abnormal love triangle - he, his wife Romola and Diaghilev himself - drives him to schizophrenia.

The film features classical music performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and uses excerpts from performances by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Center Stage (2000)

Friendship and competition are intertwined in a teen drama film about students of a ballet academy. The plot is fascinating, but it is not what makes the movie important, it is rather an opportunity to get to know the American ballet school better.

Only two actors of the entire cast were not professional dancers or had no ballet training. The choreography of the film was directed by a well-known professional - Susan Stroman, she received American Choreography Awards for it. The film’s soundtrack performed by Mandy Moore, has been at the top of the world charts for a long time. In 2008 and 2016, the sequels of the film were released.

Billy Elliot (2000)

Billy, a boy living in a mining town, has a passionate dream of doing ballet, despite the fact that boxing is considered the only worthy male hobby in his family.

A touching drama, directed by Stephen Daldry, about genius that is often misunderstood by society and about the power of a dream that can rebel against the conventional ways. In 2001, the film received three British Academy Awards and was nominated for an Oscar three times. In 2005, the plot of the film served as a basis for a musical, which was performed in London, Australia and on Broadway. 

Black Swan (2010)

This is, probably, the most famous film about ballet. In Darren Aronofsky's psychological horror film Black Swan, the ballet backstage is shown through the prism of a sick mind of the main character, Nina. The girl, who has no life outside the ballet, gets the long-awaited role of Odette-Odile in Swan Lake but begins to gradually fall into paranoia due to her own fears, complexes and perfectionism.

Natalie Portman was awarded an Oscar in the Best Actress nomination for this role. But the performance of other star actors is also worthy of the audience's attention, for example, Vincent Cassel is very convincing in the role of the choreographer-director.