(above image from Galadestoiles)
Judith Mackrell from London’s Guardian newspaper blogs that, according to the BBC News, Hollywood is interested in making a movie based on the life of Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta (who is now with the Royal Ballet in London and has formerly been with ABT and still sometimes guests with my favorite company; Danny Tidwell has listed him as one of his heroes, along with my love Jose who also happens to be Cuban).
Anyway, this project is so exciting to me. I remember when I was young and “White Nights” starring Baryshnikov came out. Everyone was talking. I remember seeing pictures in the newspapers of little Alexandra Baryshnikova (several years younger than me — wonder where she is now?…) being lifted out of a limousine by her father to accompany him down the red carpet for the film’s premiere. I remember all the talk about nude pictures Baryshnikov posed for with co-actor Isabella Rossellini to promote the film and his then-scandalous out-of-wedlock affair with Alexandra’s mother, Jessica Lange. I remember all the network news stories reporting that the little girl cried during the film when the KGB agents threatened her father and had to be comforted by him. I remember eventually seeing the film with my mom and thinking how fun was the tap dancer (Gregory Hines) and how beautiful and polished and smooth were Baryshnikov’s pirouettes (and how many he could do!), and I remember finding the KGB people thrillingly scary but their accents so attractive. I was too young really to appreciate the art of dance, other than Baryshnikov’s perfect, dizzying, never-ending turns, and I don’t even remember the film’s full plot, but to me ballet became this world filled with exotic beauty, intrigue, spies, scandalous taboo-breaking, glamour, Hollywood, the global political situation. Ballet was enchanting and beautiful in itself but it also heavily involved the world around us.
I think it’s time for another big ballet movie. I think perhaps Danny Tidwell has paved the way for mass audience appreciation of the dance, at least in this country. He may have called himself “contemporary” on SYTYCD, but that doesn’t matter; people recognize the form as ballet. And what better story than that of a boy born poor and minority in the slums of Havana who became one of the greatest dancers in the world?
The interesting issue is, as Mackrell points out, who is going to portray Acosta? He seems to want to play himself, but that seems odd to me: who has ever played himself in a narrative, non-documentary film? And talk about the potential for a struggle over artistic control between director and actors… “White Nights” was not the story of Baryshnikov’s life but rather very loosely based on what might happen if a plane he was on crash-landed in Soviet Russia, from which he had just defected. If the Acosta movie is going to be a direct re-telling of his life, I think it makes more sense for a professional actor to play him. But then of course who is going to be able to dance like that?!