Directors: Matt Wolf (2013)
Country: United States
Duration: 75 min
Ballet 422 does something very unique that I’ve never seen in a documentary before: it uses silence to convey mood and motion. Usually the opposite is the case: sound and music are used to elevate dramatic tension; but when Ballet 422 wants to heighten a scene, it turns the sound off completely – and it works, beautifully. Without auditory distractions your attention focuses solely on the minimalistic images director Jody Lee Lipes has composed.
Ballet 422 follows emerging choreographer Justin Peck, as he creates a brand new production for the New York City ballet.
Peck is an engaging character; he is contemplative and empathetic, nothing like the stereotype one has of the bombastic and cruel choreographer who abuses and berates those he directs,
Rather, he is the epitome of cool. When one of the dancers in his ballet repeatedly fails to grasp a sequence he has devised, Peck doesn’t lose his patience; instead, he explains it to her until she gets it right.
This is perhaps why the use of silence in Ballet 422 works so well; it is entirely congruent with Peck’s calm personality, which eschews melodrama and instead aims for subtle precision.
Also see: Afternoon of a Faun