The 49th USA Film Festival opened at the Angelika Dallas Wednesday, April 24th. After a cocktail party sponsored by Tootsies, complete with young women modeling Halston gowns, they screened three opening films – Halston, American Woman and The White Crow. I attended The White Crow, a fascinating “based on a true story” about Rudolph Nureyev. The movie covered his life from his birth (on a trans-Siberian train) to his defection in 1961. Being your typical genius, Nureyev didn’t really have any political leanings or patience with anyone who held him back. He just wanted to have fun, learn, grow and dance. It was only when his government tried to interfere with his endeavors that he considered leaving his country as an option. Oleg Ivenko’s dancing is amazing, he seems to take a beat in mid-air. Ralph Fiennes directs and plays Pushkin, Nureyev’s soft-spoken teacher.
White Nights was released in 1985. It is an okay political thriller with excellent dance scenes. Kolya (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Raymond (Gregory Hines), have each defected to the others country. When Kolya’s plane crashes in the USSR, the government places him in Raymond’s home. Using their shared love of dance, Raymond is supposed to convince him to return to the Soviet Union. Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini play their respective love interests. It did win an Oscar for Best Song – Say You, Say Me by Lionel Richie.
Another ballet movie that I have always liked is Center Stage. Sort of like but just for ballet dancers. You see the pressures both real and perceived, the joy and the heartache with a little love and competition just to make it interesting. Released in 2000, it stars young Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt and Peter Gallagher. The dancing vacillates between traditional ballet and more modern interpretations that allow the students to stretch their wings. Just watch it for fun.