a prima ballerina, Tchaikovsky’s Swan
Lake is one of the most demanding ballets to perform. You’ve seen Black Swan, right? Well, try dancing the
featured role a few months after pregnancy. Maiko Neshino set out to do exactly
that. The question is not whether she has the drive or the talent, but whether she
has enough time to rebound physically. Åse Svenheim Drivenes follows Neshino
through rehab and rehearsals in the intimate documentary Maiko: Dancing Child (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival.
is almost too much, but the name Maiko really means “Dancing Child.” As is the
case with truly elite dancers, her talent was indeed discovered at an early
age. Neshino’s family made substantial lifestyle-effecting sacrifices to send
her abroad to study. Consequently, she understood quite clearly failure was not
an option. At the point the film picks up, she has been remarkably successful,
maintaining her position as a principal dancer with the Norwegian National
Ballet well into her thirties—and then she finally gets pregnant.
was something she and her husband always wanted but never knew how to schedule,
so they do the best they can. Most importantly, they have a happy and healthy
baby. However, Drivenes is far more interested in the comeback process than the
pregnancy. Swan Lake is the last
significant role Neshino has yet to play, so she intends to honor her commitment,
but it would be tough even under the best of circumstances.
is a graceful form of artistic expression, but those who are not part of its
exclusive world will be a bit taken aback by the punishing nature of her
training regimen. This is not for the faint of heart. Viewers might also get
sick of hearing the same musical passage over and over again.
it is a minor miracle the dancers never snap from the mind-torturing repetition.
course, the camera absolutely loves Neshino. She is elegance personified, so we
can well understand why she has become the face of the Norwegian company, while
her Horatio Alger-esque background makes her an even more compelling figure to
root for. Drivenes also gives the audience an inside peak into to the training
and rehearsal process, sort of in the spirit of Wiseman’s La Danse, but in more economical and contextualized servings.
Throughout the film, everyone makes it acutely
plain nothing is guaranteed when it comes to ballet. Although it clocks in at a
relatively concise seventy minutes, viewers will walk away feeling they have a
good understanding of who Neshino is and what sort of professional and artistic
challenges she faces. Recommended for patrons of dance and performing art docs,
Maiko: Dancing Child screens this
Sunday (6/14) and Tuesday (6/16) as part of this year’s LAFF.
Labels: Dance on film, Documentary, LAFF '15, Maiko Neshino