Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Dancer

1994, Donya Feuer
96 min., color documentary
Swedish w/English Subtitles
All ages
The Dancer follows Katja Bjorner, a teenage ballet dancer through rehearsals at at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, competitions and stage performance. Directed by a dancer, this film allows for lengthy, generous close-ups on the feet and hands, but it is the face, sweating, composed, emitting short breaths, that speak most eloquently of the dancer's discipline. There are no bloody unwrapped feet here, no anorexia or moments dwelling on missed opportunities—this is a vision of ballet as hard work and a big dream come true.

Fleshing out the studio sequences is a trip to the ballet shoe factory, where men stand all day at lasts making custom-fit shoes for dancers. We get to see them apply layers of fabric and wheat paste, shape the block, nail and ply the shoe—an art and discipline in itself.

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