As culture rich as Nevada County, CA is, it’s still a semi-rural region. When the New York City Ballet comes to town, opportunity knocks for a niche subset of local culture seekers. The documentary “Ballet 422” doesn’t compete as a crossover film luring a new audience into tutuville, but for those already so inclined, this is a satisfying look at the process of creating a ballet.
No, there are no tutus in “Ballet 422,” but generating an effect includes particulars like how a costume flows off a ballerina’s hip. Creating an effect includes lighting choices and engaging the enthusiasm of the orchestra.
Mostly, the film focuses on the creativity, collaboration and professionalism centered by Justin Peck. After years as one of the NYCB troops, the 25-year-old gets a chance to choreograph a new show for the new season.
The process involves trying component this and innovative that. It’s hours upon weeks of working alone, one on one, and in groups. Evolving the exact movements and expressive energy – surprisingly -- unfolds quite amicably.
The leisurely style of this 75-minute film experience affords appreciation of small aspects of a complex realm. The accompanist – an unsung but routinely critical part of the process – looks to be tapping away at his i-phone when he’s not being called upon to reprise any snippet or section of the music. Dancers, ever taping, stretching, waiting, rehearsing, also do their own makeup, stitch their own pointe shoes, and serve as their own mannequins.
Pony tails bob to their own rhythms until they get tucked and pinned. Waving arms discover balance and alignment. “Ballet 422” is the respectfully mundane inside story of the 422nd ballet produced by the renowned NYCB. It may be just another ballet, but it’s Justin’s chance to shine on a high-profile stage.
Curious paradox: a semi-rural venue may be too small to have enough audience for a special sort of ordinary look behind the scenes of big city ballet. It may also be a place where documentary film is meant to find its most special sort of ordinary benefit.