Ballet horror beyond Black Swan

Ballerina vs. ballerina: Maya Plisetskaya stabs Galina Ulanova

The pretext for Italian director Dario Argento’s 1977 flick Suspiria is the arrival of a ballet student at a European academy run by a secret coven of witches. Dance isn’t the point—the eerie prog rock soundtrack by Goblin, a lush, restricted color scheme and elaborate production design fuel an expressionist gorefest—where beautiful women are violently … Continue reading

Art under pressure: Black Swan & ballet today

Twirl video by New York City Ballet dancers (youtube still)

‘Tis the season for Christmas parties, and thus for impromptu movie reviews. My fellow brunchgoer on Black Swan: “That movie was TERRIBLE!!” Her opinion had to be somewhat credible because she brought an adorable pit-bulldog mix decked out in a red bandanna. You can’t go wrong with festive dogs. So how was it? Black Swan … Continue reading

Black Swan tribute: erotic intensity at the ballet

Tanaquil LeClercq in "Jones Beach"

Before the Black Swan, the White Swan and the dichotomy between them ever existed, there were pioneering 19th century ballerinas who defined different types in ballet. The most famous is Marie Taglioni, the first to reinforce her ballet slippers and rise up on pointe, creating the impression of floating or flying—a creature of the air, innocent … Continue reading

Black Swan countdown: female-centric suspense

Two women? in Bergman's Persona

I’m excited enough about the Natalie Portman/Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan that I already posted about its potential connection to a great dance psychodrama, The Red Shoes. The older film isn’t scary at all, but it does dramatize a woman possessed by conflicts of ambition, identity and eros. What is female-centric suspense? It has women … Continue reading

Black Swan countdown: Red Shoes retrospective

Natalie Portman and Moira Shearer's dramatic makeup

As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew I would see Black Swan, whether it were a swan or a turkey, simply because of my intense interest in the subject matter. I’m even more excited now that the buzz is good. Swan Lake has evolved into, among other things, an exploration of the duality … Continue reading

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