Ballet 422 (2014)

Documentary, Music, Sport
Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Justin Peck, Amar Ramasar
From first rehearsal to world premiere, Ballet 422 takes us backstage at New York City Ballet as emerging choreographer Justin Peck crafts a new work.
  • Magnolia Pictures Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 19 Apr 2014 Released:
  • 26 May 2015 DVD Release:
  • $0.3M Box office:

Trailer:

If you like dance you'll love this other wise you'll be disappointed5/10
A look at the creation of a new dance (number 422) for the New York City Ballet by choreographer and dancer Jonathan Peck. We watch as Peck goes from commission through creation to performance.

How much you like the nuts and bolts of dance will determine how much you like the film. Personally I'm not a ballet fan so much of the creation segments bored me. I had no idea what they were talking about and watching some things over and over again wore on me.

At the same time seeing the completed piece was magical as was the kicker of seeing how Peck had to create the dance while at the same time maintaining his training as a dancer for the Ballet- his piece premieres as part of an evening of dance and he then had to race to get into costume to dance.

I know many dance fans who saw this, like I did at Tribeca, who loved it. I know just as many people like me who liked bits.

Worth a shot for the dance fans out there, all others its up to you.
From first rehearsal to world premiere7/10
From first rehearsal to world premiere, BALLET 422 takes us backstage at New York City Ballet as Justin Peck, a young up-and-coming choreographer, crafts a new work. BALLET 422 illuminates the process behind the creation of a single ballet within the ongoing cycle of work at one of the world's great ballet companies.

New York City Ballet, under the artistic direction of Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, boasts a roster of more than 90 elite dancers and a repertory of works by many of the greatest choreographers in the history of the art form. When 25-year-old NYCB dancer Justin Peck begins to emerge as a promising young choreographer, he is commissioned to create a new ballet for the Company's 2013 Winter Season. With unprecedented access to an elite world, the film follows Peck as he collaborates with musicians, lighting designers, costume designers and his fellow dancers to create Paz de la Jolla, NYCB's 422nd new ballet. BALLET 422 is an unembellished verite portrait of a process that has never before been documented at New York City Ballet in its entirety.
Delightful New York City Ballet documentary8/10
"Ballet 422" (2014 release; 75 min.) is a documentary about how New York City Ballet dancer Justin Peck, all of just 25 yrs. old, is commissioned to choreograph a new ballet piece, and he has only 2 months to do it, with the premiere scheduled for January 31, 2013 (it is the only new ballet piece of the Winter '13 season, and it is the ballet's 422th overall). The documentary opens with a couple of facts regarding the City Ballet itself (such as: it has its own full tie orchestra), and then we dive straight in, and we are treated to a no-holds barred behind the scenes look at how Peck goes about it.

Couple of comments: first and foremost, if you don't care for ballet, please save yourself the trouble and check out another movie instead. On the other hand, if you love ballet, chances are that you will marvel as we get a glimpse of how the City ballet actually works on a day-to-day basis. We get to know Justin Peck a little bit, as well as several of the featured dancers including Tiler Peck (no relation) and Sterling Hyltin. If you are expecting high drama (say as in "Black Swan"), you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, we get to appreciate the hard work that goes into a ballet piece, all the way to the smallest details (it is amazing to see how much attention the costume design is given). Couple of surprises for me from the documentary: at no point does Justin Peck share explain his vision or concept for he new ballet piece, or if he did, it didn't make it in the documentary. Also, while we are told that the music being used for the ballet hails from 1935, we don't find out what composer or which music piece until the movie's end credits, wow. But in the end those are minor quibbles, and I enjoyed "Ballet 422" quite a bit.

I saw "Ballet 422" at a recent one-time only special showing at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. It was announced beforehand that following the showing there would be a Q&A with Victoria Morgan, Creative Director and CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet. It was great that the theater was absolutely PACKED for this, and indeed there was a lively discussion after the showing, with Victoria sharing her further insights on all this. If you love ballet, I strongly encourage you to check out "Ballet 422", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray (where hopefully there will be some bonus materials). "Ballet 422" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
A good but not great film6/10
I just saw this film at Filmlinc (Feb 6, 2015). Let's just say that Jody Lee Lipes is no Frederick Wiseman. The film just not have the length of a Wiseman film (Ballet 422 is 72 minutes; Wiseman films run 3-4 hours). Wiseman usually spends at least 3 months with his subjects. Lipes explained he really knows nothing about ballet (though he is married to Ellen Barr, a former NYCB soloist and current head of their media operations). I think it really helps if you are (and have been) a NYCB frequent viewer. I was able to identify most of the dancers (even the corps). Albert Evans (who helps Peck) is a former NYCB principal and current ballet master. He is obviously in charge of Peck's work (in that he could set it on new dancers or another company). The person who talked to Justin about talking to the orchestra in Cameron Grant, a company pianist who both plays for rehearsals and class but also performances (Pictures At An Exhibition).

When I see a a Wiseman film I feel I really understand the institution he is portraying. Here, I didn't really feel I had any better understanding of the choreographic process. How did Justin pick this music? How did he pick the dancers? What were the money constraints? What was Peter's role (you know he had one)?

There were also a few things I really didn't like. One was Lipes showing Justin complaining to Albert about Amar Ramasar, one of his leads. Amar seems like a relaxed, good guy, but no dancer wants to be called out like that on camera. The other was Lipes final shot, which was of Concerto DSCH (which Justin is preparing to dance) with Bizet's Symphony in C (NOT its music) playing over the visuals. We only get about 2 minutes of what Paz DE la Jolla looked like on stage. That was really a letdown and something a Wiseman would never do. I mean, the whole film is about the creation of Paz and then show only 2 minutes? And end with Ratmansky's masterpiece? What a letdown. And if Lipes knew more about ballet, maybe he'd have realized a bit more what it means to end with another choreographer's work.

Anyway, I enjoy everything ballet and really like film, too. This is not a great film but if you like NYCB (and new work) this is a must see. If not, may be a pass.