"Ballet Russes" (2005) the film written & directed by Geller and Goldfine gave us the magnificent times and personal history with plenty of anecdotes from many memorable ballerinas (men and women) of the Russian ballet companies through the years. While Normand's "Ballerina" gives us an insight to the modern day ballet world of Russia in mere 80 minutes, featuring the five chosen ballerinas from the Mariinsky Theatre and is able to capture our interest and fascinate us, without a doubt.
Training for ballerinas in Russia is very much 'single-mindedly' focused on everything ballet, dancing techniques and artistry, specific dancer-target body and limbs development, and practice, practice, practice. Alina the youngest promising student from Vaganova Academy was selected to join the Kirov Ballet Company and gets to earn the chance to debut as the Black Swan in "Swan Lake" at age 17. Her fellow outstanding student Evguenya also get to join the Kirov, even tried an acting role in a film; she is maturing well and longing to be principal dancer as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet." The expressive Svetlana has been given (groomed for) solo dancer status direct from the Academy and is now a Prima ballerina at the Bolshoi. Diana with her distinctive look and skill is well sought after by international ballet companies and she gets to travel outside of Russia to deliver performances abroad. From the brief interview exchanges, her Prima ballerina profession is well-anchored and blossoming with diverse (vs. traditional/classical) dance roles offered especially to her. Veteran 'come-back' Prima ballerina Ulyana is simply mesmerizing to watch. Alina and young ballerinas all look up to her. Check out the film's trailer at "firstrunfeatures.com/trailer_ballerina.html" - Ulyana is the initial ballerina featured in the first 30 seconds, including the one in lean fiery red - the stillness in her limbs and fluid slender body movements are breathtaking, and such joy exudes from her smile with baby in arms.
Unlike another First Run Features documentary on ballerinas by French filmmaker Nils Tavernier: "(Tout pres Des) Etoiles - dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet" (2001) which is a more comprehensive behind the scenes account with plenty of interviews and conversations with multiple ballerinas, female and male, budding and seasoned, including discussions of retiring age, post-retirement notions, Normand's "Ballerina" contains complete pieces of professional on-stage performances admirable for any audience. Besides being the writer and director of the film, he is also one of the many photographers who delivered the cinematic captures we get to enjoy.