Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bus Stop Bee

Such a cold and gray day in San Francisco that I was surprised to observe a living and active bee while waiting for the 31 Balboa after I finished work at the library this afternoon. MUNI conveyed me to the Balboa Theater, a seedy little place out near the ocean where I met a friend to see the new documentary by Frederick Wiseman about the Paris Opera Ballet. It is called La Danse and was a warm and heartening film to see on a short and sunless winter day.

In addition to classics like Casse-Noisette (immediately below), the film offered long snips of new work in rehearsal, plus stage footage of work by two great contemporary choreogaphers: Wayne McGregor and Pina Bausch (and may the latter rest in peace – she died at 68 just this past summer).

Most poignantly, the film brought out the perishability of these apparently invincible and (as one review had it) "impossibly beautiful" young dancers – whose careers typically last less than 20 years – versus the durability of the company with its sky-high standards (as represented in visual terms by the glorious and enduring yet secretly shabby and cramped Beaux-Arts building that houses them all).