The new film “Ballets Russes,” which just opened at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Theaters, really is a delight for balletomanes and “dance dunces” (to borrow an Alex Ross coinage) alike. Among my favorite moments: Bejeweled, massively coiffed 86-year-old Mia Slavenska recounting her first Balanchine encounter (“Balanchine who?”) and then saying “It’s a pity I sent that message because with my looks, he would have fallen madly in love with me.”

The Chronicle had me attend the film’s gala screening at the Film Arts Festival Thursday night and play social reporter:

“Marc Platt could not have expected to still be receiving standing ovations at age 91, but there he was Thursday night at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco’s Kanbar Hall, leaning unsteadily on his cane as an elevator platform lifted him to the stage. Minutes earlier, his image as a star dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo had bounded across the silver screen, the picture of youthful vigor. And now, just as in times past, the audience was on its feet.

Flanking Platt were Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, the filmmaking couple who made this ovation possible. “This is really the homecoming,” Goldfine said to the capacity crowd at the Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema’s opening gala. “It brings us full circle because the first film we ever made, in 1988, was about Isadora Duncan. We swore up and down that we’d never make another dance film again.”

An extraordinary opportunity persuaded them to break their oath. In 2000, the members of two once-warring companies, Leonide Massine’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Col. Vassili de Basil’s original Ballets Russes, gathered in New Orleans for a reunion. Mostly white-haired and eccentrically dressed, many of the dancers had not seen each other in more than four decades. And between their vivid recollections and stunning archival footage, Geller and Goldfine found the makings for “Ballets Russes”: a documentary that would speak not just to dance fans but also to anyone who appreciates the way the passions of youth persist for a lifetime.”

Click here for the whole article.

And click here to visit the film’s engaging website, with photos of the Ballet Russe stars in their glory days and now.

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