The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, October 21, 2021


Sofia Coppola's challenge: To convey the feeling of live dance
Sofia Coppola directs with Justin Peck, in yellow, and Wendy Whelan, left, an artistic director of the New York City Ballet. Erin Baiano via The New York Times.

by Roslyn Sulcas



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Although she likes ballet, Sofia Coppola doesn’t consider herself an aficionado. Still, when she received an email from the New York City Ballet asking if she would direct a film for the company’s virtual spring gala on Wednesday, she didn’t hesitate. “I was so thrilled,” she said in a video interview last week. “It was so cool to get a note from City Ballet.”

Coppola, whose dreamlike first feature, “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), established her as a filmmaker who could hold a viewer’s interest through imagery and atmosphere as much as narrative or action, has won accolades and awards for her movies, including a screenwriting Oscar for “Lost in Translation” (2003) and the best director award for “The Beguiled” (2017) at the Cannes Film Festival.

“We were a little nervous to reach out to her,” Justin Peck, resident choreographer and artistic adviser at City Ballet, said in the video interview along with Coppola. He had been discussing with the company’s artistic directors, Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan, “putting something substantial together, with real vision,” he said, and they agreed they wanted to engage with a filmmaker. Coppola, he said, was No. 1 on his list. “She was so responsive and excited about it, and warm to speak to, that it just turned into a wonderful process.”

The 24-minute film (available on City Ballet’s website and YouTube channel, from Thursday through May 20) includes “Solo,” a new work by Peck for the principal dancer Anthony Huxley, set to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, and excerpts from Jerome Robbins’ “Dances at a Gathering” and Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant,” “Liebeslieder Walzer” and “Divertimento No. 15.”

Coppola links these pieces by means of a poetic journey through the company’s home, the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, moving from black-and-white footage of the dancers in the rehearsal studio, backstage and in the huge empty foyer to color segments in the auditorium and on the stage itself. “Shooting in the theater,” Coppola said, “I felt the spirits of dance are there.”

In the interview, she and Peck discussed how they worked together, the challenges of filming dance and what they each took away from the experience. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q: Sofia, how did you approach making this film?

Coppola: I’ve enjoyed going to the ballet over the years, but I have never filmed anything with a dance component. And my shooting style is pretty stationary, so to do something where there was so much movement, I had to think about using the camera differently. What was very helpful was getting Justin’s films, shot on his phone, of his rehearsals with Anthony. It was interesting to see his sense of movement.

Q: What are the challenges of filming dance?

Coppola: The challenge for me was to convey the feeling of seeing live dance. A lot of dance is filmed in a very flat, standard way. But getting close up, which is thrilling in rehearsal, doesn’t always translate onto film either. I had to move the camera much more than I am used to, and try to give the feel of experiencing a live performance from different vantage points.

There were also technical things. In the edit, we would say, “Oh, that is beautiful,” and Wendy or Jon or Justin would say, “Hmmm, his turn is a bit off” or “The feet aren’t in the shot!” I don’t normally think about showing someone from head to toe in a frame, but here you want to show the choreography fully.

Q: Did you watch movie musicals growing up?

Coppola: Yes, we watched a lot of musicals. I don’t know if that influenced me here, but the last section of the film, the finale of “Divertimento No. 15,” to me had that kind of old Hollywood glamour that I wanted to convey.




Q: How much homework did you feel you needed to do to understand each dance piece?

Coppola: I actually didn’t want to prepare too much, because I wanted to approach the dance in a fresh way. But Jon, Wendy and Justin all talked to me about the history of each piece — when they were made and what the choreographers might have been thinking. I also learned a lot about Robbins from Jean-Pierre Frohlich, and what certain gestures meant in the “Dances” solo. I wanted to try to give each piece a different visual personality, and we found that together I think.

Q: You are both credited on the film for “concept.” How did you work on that together?

Coppola: In our first conversations, Justin explained the dancers had been away from the theater for a year, so bringing the theater back to life, and the feeling of the dancers returning to their home, became the central idea. I like films that are more abstract and poetic, and for me each piece had its own essence and feeling, so we talked about that, too.

Peck: Part of the intention was to expose some of the inner workings of the theater an audience member wouldn’t normally see. We wanted to create a slow burn, from its inner workings toward a fully executed stage performance. It symbolizes the process for a dancer: starting in the studio, making your way toward the stage, then performing in the lights.

One of the things I really loved when I saw the rough cut of the film was that it felt like all of these excerpts were happening simultaneously, in their little subworlds in the theater. That’s a very authentic idea, the way the craft gets honed through rehearsals and comes together onstage.

Q: Did you also discuss the idea of moving from black and white to color?

Coppola: No, I just pictured it like that from the beginning. But then I wanted the end to be a celebration and a coming back to life, and hoped I could switch to color without it being too corny. I love the contrast between the rehearsals and backstage, then tutus and lights; it’s like a fantasy of what ballet is when you’re a little kid. Also the pale blues and yellows of the “Divertimento” costumes are so pretty, like spring colors coming to life.

Peck: It’s also another very authentic representation of what it feels like to work in the theater. The backstage spaces are poorly lit, the hallways are dank and the walls are peeling. Then there is the magic that happens when you go out onstage and the warmth of the lights is on you.

Q: Sofia, you staged “La Traviata” for the Rome Opera in 2016. Were there any similarities of approach for you here?

I think that experience simply helped me to say yes to this and not be too scared, because I had already done something I didn’t know how to do. The similarity was perhaps that both experiences were focused on art and beauty. It’s a nice break from movies, which are so expensive to make that it often becomes all about business. In the theater, there are all these craftspeople who are doing it really for the love of their art. There is a purity there that gives me so much in my spirit.

Q: What did you take away from the experience?

Coppola: I feel I have new friendships in the dance world! And it’s so energizing to collaborate in a new medium.

Peck: We feel the same. Sofia has shown us she can dance with her camera.

2021 The New York Times Company










Today's News

May 6, 2021

Three-year old Mtoto, Africa's earliest known human burial

A wide-roaming and personal meditation on Drer and his art

Sanford Biggers opens at Rockefeller Center with Art Production Fund

Købke's portrait of Carl von Nutzhorn joins the collections of Nationalmuseum

Exhibition of works by Alma Allen span two of Kasmin's locations in Chelsea

In New Orleans, an art break hotel

Billie Zangewa makes art where the light is best

Christie's announces live sale of Latin American art

Love letters and the tortured inheritance of the Little Prince

Doyle to auction Impressionist & Modern art on May 12

6 design books that celebrate a world of artifacts

Broadway is reopening. But not until September.

Almine Rech opens "Salon de Peinture" exhibition

Neue Auctions announces online-only May Modernism sale

Sofia Coppola's challenge: To convey the feeling of live dance

France battles over whether to cancel or celebrate Napoleon

Exceptional Tiffany Studios floor lamp shines at $150,000 at Heritage Auctions

Important painting by Welsh artist Sir John Kyffin Williams to be offered at Parker Fine Art Auctions

Chelsea Foundation and Royal Air Force Museum unveil new exhibition plans for Jewish Hidden Heroes project

Exhibition 'The Lams of Ludlow Street' by Thomas Holton on view at Home Gallery

12 artists from Europe and Iran explore Iran's cultural heritage

Former Sotheby's Australia Chairman to sell the last pink diamonds from the Argyle Mine

Terra Foundation awards $2.5 million to US arts and culture organizations for permanent collection projects

Felt+Fat, Philadelphia-based Tableware Manufacturer, Embraces Sustainable Manufacturing

The impact of Netflix on the Entertainment Industry

ESO Calendar events in 2021




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful