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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

entry arrow11:19 AM | Artists at Work

I have a thing for documentaries about artists pursuing and crafting their passions, may it be about sushi masters (Jiro Dreams of Sushi!) or typeface designers (Helvetica!) or dancers (Pina!) or comic book artists (Crumb!) or magazine editors (The September Issue!) or graffiti artists (Style Wars!) or animators (Waking Sleeping Beauty!) or filmmakers (Jodorowsky's Dune!) or writers (Regarding Susan Sontag!) or photographers (Bill Cunningham New York!) or back-up singers (20 Feet from Stardom!) or painters (Cutie and the Boxer!) or fashion designers (Unzipped! and Dior and I!).

To start the week before school starts, it's Jody Lee Lipes' Ballet 422 (2014) for me, his immersive look into Justin Peck's creation of the 422nd ballet for the New York City Ballet. Peck (in photo), at 25, has been called ballet's 'boy wonder': although still a member of the corps de ballet, City Ballet’s lowest rank of dancers, he has been choreographing for many of its principal stars. Delicious documentary (and subject, ehehe).

The most powerful moment for me in the film comes right at the very end when Mr. Peck's inaugural work for City Ballet, Paz de la Jolla, ends to rapturous applause, and we find the young choreographer making his way to the stage to take a bow with the rest of the company. You would think the film will end there, right at that moment of triumph. But no. The camera soon follows Mr. Peck backstage -- and you wonder where he is going -- then we find him making his way to his dressing room, to suit up and prepare for the next portion of the program, where he is just one member of the corps. It comes as a pleasant shock: the film comes full circle in that sequence -- and it tells us this is really a film about an artist learning to make his way into his world, and that there is always a time in the artist's life where humble beginnings and the start of something big fade into each other. In Vulture's article about Mr. Peck, Mr. Lipes gives us a way of seeing the film: “With Justin, we wanted to capture that moment in an artist’s career when things are starting to happen, but they’re still learning.” Powerful stuff. Inspiring and humbling at the same time.

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