Allan Ulrich reports in the Chronicle today on a new film about the
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo:

?The names and histories of those dancers — Alicia Markova (now 93), Maria Tallchief, Irina Baronova and Tatiana Riabouchinska (two of the three celebrated “baby ballerinas”), Nathalie Krassovska, Yvonne Chouteau, Frederic Franklin, Mia Slavenska, Marc Platt and George Zoritch, to cite the most prominent — add up to a chronicle of ballet in the 20th century. Within that span, the art of classical dance traveled from its home in czarist Russia to what many observers deemed its logical destination in the United States. These people made it happen.?

The catalyst for the documentary was the company?s 2000 reunion, which inspired filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller:

“To see people that old who relied on their bodies for their whole careers, finding their bodies betraying them and still carrying on with optimism and exuberance, still working every day, is remarkable,” Geller says in the couple’s home and office in San Francisco’s Alamo Square. “These people are examples of lives well lived.”

It sounds as though the film offers plenty of glimpses of the dancers in their prime, as captured by Ann Barzel:

?The public has never seen most of this footage. True, it comprises short excerpts, it is all silent (though some is in color), and the speed varies. Yet these tantalizing glimpses of the young Tamara Toumanova in George Balanchine’s “Cotillon,” or Franklin and Alexandra Danilova in a number of traditional and character assignments, are a unique window on the past.?

Geller and Goldfine are the same team that made an excellent documentary about Isadora Duncan featuring many restaged dances. Keep an eye out for this new project.

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