Ballet 422 is the type of documentary which more so has the viewer act as a shadow who watches as everyone gears up for a performance vs. being the type of documentary which is almost detective-like and probing.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Justin Peck is a 25-year-old choreographer who also dances for the New York City ballet. But while he may be part of the lowest ranks of dancers, he is one of the few to be able to claim to be a professional dancer and choreographer at the same time. Though in this film, the focus isn’t necessarily him but a ballet he is creating based off a music composition from 1935, all in the time span of around 2 months. So what you’ll see is him planning the choreography, the work of tailors to create outfits, the orchestra practicing, and the many issues which come from trying to bring a dream, or vision, into reality.
Being that my knowledge of ballet is limited, it makes seeing this almost step by step process quite interesting. For whether it was Peck forming the choreography, and then meshing it with the capabilities of his dancers; us seeing how the costumes are made, all by hand, and sometimes using a washing machine to dye clothes; how Peck had to expand past the performers and also work with the technical crew and orchestra; and do a little ass kissing; it felt like we were allowed to walk in his shadow, and sometimes venture on our own, from start to finish.
Also, and this is just something I personally liked, the movie tells you how much time is left before a performance which helps you understand the possible order one would take each issue into consideration. At least in terms of when it would become impertinent for Peck to look into leaving the studio and going to the stage, dealing with the overall palette of the production, and etc.
With there not being a lot of perspectives into ballet, especially in terms of movies, it is quite unfortunate the movie doesn’t have interviews with any of the people involved what so ever. For while there are the occasional intimate-ish moments, largely everything seems cold, professional, and without much of a heartbeat.
Overall: TV Viewing
While the insight into what leads up to a performance was good, without interviewing participants, and with only Peck being name-checked, it made the documentary feel a bit incomplete. That is despite almost each department being given at least a moment to shine, and us seeing most of the final performance. But, again, with mostly everyone just being another body on the stage, crafting a costume, or holding an instrument, it feels like ultimately all you are doing are peering through the glass and not getting to really hear, touch, and experience every though and emotion that went into bringing this production to reality.