FOUR GREAT BALLET- CENTRIC FILMS TO WATCH AFTER 'TINY PRETTY THINGS'
There’s been a surplus of compulsively watchable melodramas on Netflix this year; each (Albeit not all) more ridiculous than the other – but none is quite as blatantly ridiculous as Tiny Pretty Things, released on the streaming platform on 14 December and described as a combination of Black Swan and Pretty Little Liars. (Cringe!)
Based on Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra’s 2015 YA novel, the series takes place at the Archer School of Ballet in Chicago – a world-renowned academy filled with cut-throat students thrown into a frenzy when one of their peers, Cassie Shore (Anna Maiche), is pushed off the roof of the building by a mysterious hooded figure.
‘If a ballerina falls hard, and nobody’s there to catch her, does she still make a sound?’ a husky narrator wonders aloud in the trailer, without even a hint of sarcasm.
Taking Cassie’s place at Archer: Compton native Neveah Stroyer – played by real-life ballerina Kylie Jefferson – whose talent irks her snobby peers during their rehearsals for a ballet inspired by Jack the Ripper. The irony…. not to mention the morbidity.
If you have – like most others this unfortunate year – have spades of undelegated time on your hands or just want to watch a mind-numbing jargon of cringey dialogue, senseless sex and plot twists that would make Riverdale tolerable – then be my guest and watch this. Otherwise, read on for a list of ballet-centric films to watch over the winter.
‘The Red Shoes’ (1948)
Now considered one of the greatest British films ever made, surrealist masterpiece The Red Shoes features Moira Shearer as prima ballerina Victoria Page, who finds herself torn between her duty to her company’s overbearing impresario (Anton Walbrook) and her love for a young musician (Marius Goring).
‘White Nights’ (1985)
White Nights stars Mikhail Baryshnikov – AKA the Russian from Sex and the City – as Nikolai Rodchenko, a world-renowned dancer trying to escape from the Soviet Union, with Helen Mirren appearing as his dance partner, Galina Ivanova. Note, too, Lionel Richie’s Oscar-winning track for the film, “Say You, Say Me”, and Isabella Rossellini’s bit role – her first in a Hollywood production.
‘Billy Elliot’ (2000)
It would be impossible to write a list of great ballet films without including Stephen Daldry’s BAFTA winner, which famously charts an 11-year-old Northern boy’s quest to join the Royal Ballet School in the mid-’80s, in spite of initial resistance from his conservative miner father.
‘Black Swan’ (2010)
Partially inspired by his own sister’s lessons at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, Aronofsky’s 2010 film is a disconcerting meditation on the ruthless perfectionism encouraged within the world of ballet – and the fraught relationship between art and life more generally.