Dance at the movies

By Brittany Duggan
  • Carlos Acosta in Apollo by George Balanchine for The Royal Ballet / Photo by Johan Persson
  • Marianela Nunez as Kitri in Don Quixote by Carlos Acosta for The Royal Ballet / Photo by Johan Persson

Cineplex unrolls another year of the Front Row Centre Events Dance Series, bringing some of the biggest international ballets to movie theatres across the country. The Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote on October 16 was the first of the featured program. “Many people are never able to see The Royal Ballet live in the theatre for geographical reasons alone, so it’s great to have our work screened in cinemas across the UK, in Canada and elsewhere around the world. The development of the technology to do this has been fantastic and means that people, wherever they live, can enjoy ballet from the Royal Opera House in London. We’ve been screening into cinemas now for three years – we started with just 250 sites and are now in more than 1000. It’s been great to see the interest and demand for ballet on the big screen,” says Kevin O’Hare, artistic director of The Royal Ballet.

The remainder of the Cineplex Dance Series will feature more from The Royal Ballet as well as classics from the Bolshoi Ballet in Russia and an evening with Canadian Crystal Pite and the Nederlands Dans Theater in Belgium on November 17. On the home front, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will share their Moulin Rouge in February. “I’m especially excited that the Royal Winnipeg is on the program this year. It’s so important to share the talent we have in this country,” says Pat Marshall, vice president, Communications and Investor Relations at Cineplex.

Cineplex’s Front Row Centre Events Dance Series has been running for over two years. The special screening event series was initially created to host WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment – and have since expanded into the arts to include symphonies, opera, Broadway and Bollywood from around the world.


Recently in Toronto, the screening series Shorts That Are Not Pants presented NY Export: Opus Jazz. The dancefilm is a re-imagining of Jerome Robbins’ original “ballet in sneakers” from 1958 by Jody Lee Lipes and Henry Joost and was shot in New York City with a cast of New York City Ballet dancers. Robbins was the director and choreographer for the original Broadway and film versions of West Side Story in the fifties and sixties; Opus Jazz, the dancefilm, has a similar street-vibe.

Following the forty-six-minute film, a brief documentary recounted the history of the celebrated work summarizing the enduring significance and appeal of Robbins’ Opus Jazz. Rex Harrington, artist-in-residence with The National Ballet of Canada, hosted the one-night screening at the Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor Street.


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