Aired Wednesday March 24th, 2010 at 7:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
Jerome Robbins' legendary 1958 NY Export: Opus Jazz--called a "ballet in sneakers"--was a sweeping, influential hit with televised performances and a world tour. The dance told the story of disaffected urban youth who find liberation through movement that blended ballet, jazz and ballroom dancing with Latin, African and American rhythms to create a style that remains powerfully expressive, sensual and contemporary.
Now NY Export: Opus Jazz has come full circle in a vibrant new film adaptation as part of Great Performances: Dance in America airing Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7. The concept of taking this little-seen ballet and adapting it for the screen in a modern, real-world context was conceived by two New York City Ballet soloists, Ellen Bar and Sean Suozzi. Scripted interludes between the dance scenes pull the audience further into the lives of 16 emblematic characters drawn together by their youth, their energy and their hunger for life. "Acting out delight and rage...the cast demonstrated the pent-up emotions of a new generation," raves The New York Times.
Shot on 35mm film, the scenes utilize stunning urban locations like the pre-renovated High Line, McCarren Pool, Coney Island, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens as backdrops for movements of the ballet. The stylized cinematography of filmmakers Henry Joost (Catfish) and Jody Lee Lipes (Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same, Afterschool) captures the majestic landscapes of New York City as well the subtle beauty, energy and sensuality of the dances.
"We decided to put our dancers in regular clothes, instead of costumes," says Suozzi. "It makes the dance even more accessible. Ballet doesn't have to be a mysterious art form - it's our most natural, visceral expression." The result is a unique and compelling 43-minute abstract film that highlights the form, structure and energy of the dance, while embodying the raw emotional experience of urban youth.
This episode of Great Performances can also be viewed:
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 @ 2:00 am on KUED HD Channel 7.1
Monday, June 24th, 2013 @ 12:00 am on KUED HD Channel 7.1
Monday, June 24th, 2013 @ 3:00 am on KUED HD Channel 7.1
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