Sarah Jessica Parker Talks city.ballet.
New York City Ballet’s eagerly anticipated AOL On docu-series, city.ballet., went live yesterday. While the twelve short episodes are geared toward a general audience (you already understand a ballet company’s ranking system, which the first few segments explain in some detail) and occasionally include clunky imagery (fewer shots of pointe shoes in the subway, please), they’re still wonderful peeks into the offstage lives and personalities of the dancers we know and love onstage.
Celebrating the company’s dancers, says executive producer and NYCB board member Sarah Jessica Parker, is the (pun intended) point. When Pointe caught up with Parker last night at the city.ballet. premiere red carpet, we discovered that early in the process she’d made sure to pitch the idea not only to Peter Martins and the NYCB staff, but also to the dancers themselves. “I knew this was undoable without the cooperation and the blessing of the dancers,” she said. “Our great aim is to paint a portrait of the incredible dedication and commitment and sacrifice that’s required in this unusual vocation, and how interesting and complex these people’s lives are. They’re complete, full people—they’re smart and thoughtful and curious, great athletes and great thinkers, lovers of culture and music and math. It’s a big risk on their part, so I’m thrilled that they allowed us this kind of access into their lives.”
While the series includes plenty of drama—because the professional life of a ballet dancer is inherently dramatic—this is not, Parker emphasized, a reality show driven by the dancers’ personal lives. “I think the idea of a reality show diminishes the work, the serious professional dedication that’s shown from such an early age,” she said. “It had to be documentary-style—they had to tell their own stories. And their lives are infinitely more interesting than anything we could hope to write or create.”
While all twelve episodes went live yesterday morning, they’ll remain up through the end of December to give you time to work through them (and many of them are worth savoring). Each week, Pointe will highlight a different segment, with quotes from the dancers featured about what went on behind the scenes of the behind-the-scenes docu-series.
Want even more city.ballet.? You can watch all the episodes, and read a bunch of related content, on dancemagazine.com.