Must-See: Frederick Wiseman’s “La Danse”

Sadly, the video clips Amanda selected to accompany this post are no longer available for viewing on YouTube. But you can view the gorgeous trailer for La Danse below.


While a 158 minute-long documentary film about dance may not sound riveting, believe me, Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse had me from start to finish. The 2009 film paints a behind-the-scenes portrait of the Paris Opera Ballet as it prepares for seven ballets and gives viewers a glimpse of everything that happens backstage: from the grueling, exacting rehearsals to what’s on the menu in the ballet’s dining hall.

Although there are tutus and pink slippers a-plenty in this film, my absolute favorite part was watching the rehearsals for choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Genus, an avant-garde ballet that was inspired by Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. The film allows us to see the production in rehearsal and then we see get to the final product. Although I have only seen several minutes of this ballet, I’m absolutely obsessed: the costuming reminds me of moth wings or the textiles from Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2010 collection Plato’s Atlantis (McQueen’s collection was also inspired by On the Origins of Species), the music by Joby Talbot and Deru is eerie but beautiful, and the dance moves are downright biomorphic, bringing to mind insects, the snaky reptilian swoop of swan’s necks, and even wiggly protozoa in a petri dish.

La Danse is screening in the museum auditorium on Saturday, December 17, at 2 pm, included in exhibition admission. Don’t miss it!

Amanda Jiron-Murphy, In-Gallery Interpretation and Public Programs Coordinator

One thought on “Must-See: Frederick Wiseman’s “La Danse”

  1. Thank you for sending the email. I came to visit the Phillips years ago and came back with a group. I was one of the two people who was still viewing the art in the building from Maryland. When the man who moves art around and hangs up the art got the message that I have to leave. I went up the steps and took a ride on the freight elevator. Miriam S. Ratner

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