Movie in the Making: NY Export: Opus Jazz

I’m behind on my blogging. Last Sunday, I braved the freezing cold (I HATE NY when temps drop down to the teens and single digits; all I can think of is death) and ventured up to the Guggenheim for another Works & Process event. This one, entitled “Ballet in Sneakers,” was about the making of a new film of Jerome Robbins’ 1958 jazz ballet, “NY Export: Opus Jazz.” Two New York City Ballet dancers — Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi — are the impetus behind the project. The filming is still currently underway and, in fact, is not very far along unfortunately. I was hoping they would have more clips to show other than that which I saw earlier at NYCity Ballet (which I blogged about here), but so far the duet I wrote about in that post is the only one that has been filmed. The (very young!) filmmakers — director Henry Joost, along with Jody Lee Lipes and Ariel Schulman, were there to discuss a bit of the logistics of filming that piece and the locations in which they’re thinking of shooting other parts: a tobacco warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge, a hidden area in Staten Island under the Verrazano Bridge, and they’re looking for a low rooftop surrounded by high rises. Joost gamely asked the audience to let him know if they knew of such a place. Basically, they are seeking to film one of each of the five parts of the dance in each of the five burroughs, which I thought was sweet, and fitting since Robbins was a quintessential New Yorker who loved this city, and made his ballet in honor of it. I’ll be interested to see the finished product.

I do wonder how long it’s going to be, though, since the ballet itself is not as long as a full-length feature film, and whether it’s going to show in regular cinemas, art house theaters, the New York State Theater, PBS, go direct to DVD, etc. I really wish the Works & Process organizers would allow some time for an audience Q&A. They do have a cocktail social afterward, but it’s often difficult to track down the speakers, and Sunday night it was impossible since the lobby is currently being used for the filming of another movie (don’t know which, but I heard Clive Owen was spotted in the museum earlier that day) and so was unavailable to us.

Speaking of movies, “How She Move,” of which they showed a trailer during “Dance War” on Monday night, looks kind of good. Well, the dancing at least looks decent… It opens here tomorrow night.

And speaking of “Dance War” — really, I’m sorry this post is so all over the place! — I wasn’t tremendously impressed with Monday night’s first team dance-off. I liked Team Carrie Ann’s last performance the best, mainly because they did what I said I’d most prefer in my last post on the show: put the divas up front and center and have the men as backup dancers. The women can really sing (at least four of them can), and though I’m not sure I’m tremendously impressed with anyone‘s dancing, at least the choreographers seem to be entrusting the men with somewhat more interesting moves than the women. I didn’t much care for Carrie Ann’s first team performance, though — the hip hop with all the posturing. I thought it was interesting at first, and very initially reminded me of Camille A. Brown’s “Groove to Nobody’s Business,” but it got old fast and went nowhere. I couldn’t much appreciate Bruno’s first piece, with all the pimpish sex kitten crap. He basically said he wants “sexy women and strong men,” so that is apparently where it’s at for him. And I honestly can’t remember his second piece…


  1. Thanks for posting about this new film coming out! I’m not in the ballet scene, so I hadn’t heard about it. I highly doubt it will be feature length and widely distributed. Probably it will do the festival circuit and maybe get on TV. If it’s 50 min it would be the right length for a PBS special…

  2. Thanks Anna – yeah, I’m sure you’re right; I can’t imagine it as a full-length film in movie theaters unless they create a real storyline with dialog and all (like “On the Town,” which I didn’t get the sense they were planning to do). Hopefully though it’ll be on PBS before going straight to DVD so people can see it and decide whether they want to own it. I imagine those kinds of dance DVDs sell better when they’ve been shown on PBS.

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