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This project was successfully funded on November 16, 2013

Ballet 422

by Ellen Bar and New York City Ballet


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We are thrilled to have exceeded our minimum $20,000 goal for Ballet 422. With the incredible outpouring of support from our generous donors, we have met the challenge grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation and covered the post-production costs for the film. Thank you!

Now we have a chance to reach towards the entire $62,800 budget by the campaign end date on November 15. All new gifts will help us prepare Ballet 422 for festival, theatrical, broadcast, and digital distribution; license broader usage rights to bring it to wider audiences, and compensate the artists involved.

Please, help take this film from the final step on its journey. There are a variety of levels with associated benefits from which to choose. Every gift of any amount helps. Thank you for your interest and support!

Ballet 422 is a documentary following the creation of a new ballet at one of the greatest ballet companies in the world, from beginning to end, in ALL of its creative elements. It's not so much a revolutionary idea as an extraordinarily difficult one.  It's a story that has never before been captured, not in its entirety and certainly not at New York City Ballet.  From the choreographer and dancers in the studio, to the costume designers and the seamstresses, the conductor and the musicians, the lighting designer and his crew; from the first uncertain day in the studio to the world premiere performance, the film shows nothing but the real work and the impossible-to-script moments, unmediated by interviews or talking heads.

As a former soloist with New York City Ballet, I had long dreamed about pulling back the veil on the making of a new ballet.  Even as a dancer who was often part of the choreographic process, I never saw the other artistic and technical elements develop until the very end.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to invite audiences into a world they can never visit in person and to let them watch it unfold in real time?

The realist in me thought it would never be possible.  The sheer amount of access needed would require the cooperation of the dozens of artists, designers, and crew involved and from the Company itself.  But then the stars aligned: in early November 2012, Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins commissioned a young NYCB dancer and promising choreographer, Justin Peck, to make his third ballet for the Company, on the heels of his great success with the ballet Year of the Rabbit.  Justin agreed to let us film the entire making of the ballet that would become Paz de la Jolla. The cast of dancers, led by NYCB principals Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, and Amar Ramasar, generously allowed the camera to come close from the first rehearsal to the moments before they stepped onstage. 

And most importantly, New York City Ballet recognized the inherent value of capturing and revealing a process that is at the very core of the institution.  In many ways, this film reflects the value that NYCB places on new choreography itself - a process that is arduous, time consuming, expensive and risky, but without which the art form cannot change, evolve and grow.

The extraordinary talent in front of the camera has been supported by an outstanding crew behind it.  Director/Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes (a Sundance Institute Screenwriting and Directing Fellow in 2012), Producer Anna Rose Holmer, and Editor Saela Davis have poured their hearts and souls into this project.  Jody Lee Lipes was the Co-Director and Cinematographer of my first film NY Export: Opus Jazz, a scripted, on-location adaptation of a Jerome Robbins ballet that won an Audience Award at South by Southwest 2010 and aired on PBS and BBC.  That film was both produced and danced by New York City Ballet dancers, and during the process Jody developed a deep understanding and love of dance as well as a trust with the dancers that are apparent in every frame of Ballet 422.  Jody and the filmmaking team have grown up on the tradition of Frederick Wiseman and other great verite documentary filmmakers, but in Ballet 422 they have adapted that style to the unique speed and focus of New York City Ballet.

The film we envisioned is almost a reality – we’re in the home stretch and just need to make a final push.  The post production funding that we seek will allow us to get the film to a final cut and to color correct, sound mix and master it.

Without your support, the film will remain, like the process it captures, a rarely seen mystery unfolding behind closed doors. Please help us bring our artists out from behind the curtain, and invite the audience into our world.  

There are a variety of levels with associated benefits from which to choose.  Every gift of any amount helps.  Thank you for your interest and support!

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