5 recent must-see ballet documentaries



If you’re like us, every weekend you crave a dance movie night but you feel like you’ve already watched every film in the genre! From “The Red Shoes” and “The Turning Point” to “Black Swan” and “Center Stage,” new and novel ballet movies are hard to come by. But besides musicals, comedies, and dramas is another genre you might not have tapped into—documentaries. Now, before you roll your eyes hear us out! Jo & Jax came up with a list of five recent ballet documentaries to inspire and inform your weekly movie nights.

First Position (2011)

This documentary follows a number of young aspiring ballet dancers from around the world as they gather together to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, the most prestigious ballet scholarship competition.

Ballet 422 (2014)

Ballet 422 chronicles the creation of New York City Ballet’s 422nd new work by emerging choreographer, 26-year-old Justin Peck. From first rehearsal to world premiere, this documentary gives a backstage look at the making of a brand new ballet on one of the most esteemed ballet companies.

A Ballerina’s Tale (2015)

Misty Copeland has overcome physical injuries, racial barriers, and body image preconceptions to become the first African American principal ballerina at ABT as well as a role model and national celebrity—starring on Broadway, appearing in national ad campaigns, and writing a memoir. Misty’s unconventional and spectacular journey is both inspiring and exciting.

Dancer (2016)

This film also features a remarkable dancer’s rise to stardom—Sergei Polunin, who became the youngest principal dancer at The Royal Ballet at age 20. But once you reach the top, where do you go? When Polunin was a child, his parents sacrificed everything to fund his burgeoning ballet career. As a result, his motivation is overcome with feelings of guilt and anger, and Polunin must rediscover an authentic love for dance.

Restless Creature (2017)

A standout film of this year, “Restless Creature,” documents Wendy Whelan’s retirement from 30 remarkable years with the New York City Ballet. But more than that, it’s an affecting story about vulnerability, relationships, passion, determination, and bravery of the dancer.

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