Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet

Directed by Nils Tavernier

Nils Tavernier's documentary in French, with English subtitles celebrates the legacy of the famed Paris Opera Ballet by weaving together rehearsals and tour snapshots of classical ballets as well as contemporary works. There are interviews with some of the biggest stars in dance today, who give perspectives on how and why they endure the emotional and physical hardships of the drive to be on stage. Special DVD features include a director Bio, photo gallery, trailer gallery, scene access.

ETOILES is a documentary written and directed by Nils Tavernier (son of director Bertrand Tavernier). The film focuses on the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the oldest and most rigorous ballet academies in existence, founded by Louis XVI, and producing some of the best dancers alive. The dancers, choreographers, teachers, students, and even the staff who work at the Ballet are captured in the film, weaving an intricate tapestry that shows the busy, demanding, and highly structured world in which these people live. The process of becoming a Paris Opera Ballet dancer is brutal, both physically and psychologically. Girls between the ages of 8 and 10 and boys between the ages of 9 and 11 begin at the Paris Opera Ballet's offshoot in Nanterre. There, they are trained by teachers who have been with the company for decades and who, often, are themselves graduates of the school. An annual exam determines whether the students graduate to the next level, and only a handful make the cut. Individual interviews with the adult dancers have them describe what dancing means to them, and many are at a loss for words, declaring it a way of life and the only thing they know. "Love is not the word," says one young woman, "it's something that devours you." Another explained that she contemplated being a nun, and instead became a dancer. Meanwhile the dancers furiously rehearse performances of Swan Lake, Maurice Bejart's Ninth Symphony, and La Sylphide. A beautiful film because of its music, its settings, its dances and dancers, ETOILES is a portrait of dancers who dedicate their lives to mastering a single art, while sacrificing practically everything else.

Theatrical Release Date: November 8, 2002 (NY)

Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet Reviews:

"...[The film] offers an insider's backstage view of the profession and its uncertainties..."
-- Stephen Holden, New York Times

"...Tarvernier's framing of graceful, sinewy strength bring to mind the paintings and bronze work of Degas..."
-- Luisa F. Ribeiro, Box Office

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
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