Movie evaluation: Ballet in Tandem – Taipei Times


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Deftly weaving collectively the stories of three Taiwanese dancers from different generations, Yang Wei-hsin offers a compelling and informative look into the local ballet scene and the struggles it faces

  • By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

Shot over nine years, the documentary Ballet in Tandem (舞徑) embodies the grace and discipline of the artwork kind it explores, while providing a rare glimpse into the ever-struggling native scene.

Director Yang Wei-hsin (楊偉新) carefully weaves together the tales of three Taiwanese dancers, every from a special technology, right into a compelling and detailed narrative that explores Taiwan’s history of ballet as well as the fervour, dedication and tribulations of those who aspire to an expert profession.

This is Yang’s first feature-length documentary, but his experience as a video editor is evident as he melds footage of the three topics with quite a few interviews, historic footage, performances and detail pictures in a cohesive and well-paced method.

Photo courtesy of Hooray Films

What’s most spectacular is the dealing with of emotion in the movie. With such matters, it’s easy to run with the motivational, follow-your-dreams theme and end up with a sappy story that tries too onerous to get the viewers to cry. But the emotion in Ballet in Tandem is fastidiously managed, whereas still being transferring and deeply private to the subjects. Yang additionally properly avoids glorifying their achievements just to promote Taiwan.

While the shortage of resources and profession alternatives for ballet dancers in Taiwan is obvious, nonetheless, it feels like this point is emphasised again and again in the movie; it could have been pared down because the narrative slightly loses steam toward the tip.

The three topics are aptly chosen. They’re each in different levels of their careers, however plainly the unforgiving surroundings has not changed all that much over four a long time.

Photo courtesy of Hooray Films

Lee Chiao (李巧) is the godmother of Taiwanese ballet; pretty much studying the craft on her own when there have been barely any resources. The historical past of ballet in Taiwan is advised organically through her experiences, which includes beginning Taiwan’s first professional ballet firm in 1981 and the Four Seasons dance school for elementary schoolers in 1986.

As a soloist in a South Korean ballet company, Liang Shih-huai (梁世懷) is among the few to thrive in the area, however he solely obtained there through sheer persistence and grueling training. Ballet wasn’t even his best ability in class, but by some means he was single-mindedly driven to pursue it despite warnings from his lecturers and countless rejections from international academies.

The youngest topic, Kuo Jung-an (郭蓉安), is a promising pupil at a performing arts highschool who receives the chance to attend a short-term program at the elite Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia.

Photo courtesy of Hooray Films

The three deal with a lot adversity and uncertainties over time of shooting, and their highs and lows are deftly organized into a transparent dramatic arc that’s simple to follow regardless of shifting forwards and backwards in time and place.

While Ballet in Tandem should convey a lot consideration to the plight of ballet, it’s the behind-the-scenes shots of the relentless work the dancers put in for an uncertain future that lingers in the thoughts. They repeat the identical moves time and again till their feet are covered with blisters, endure critical injuries and go through painful-looking stretching workouts, yet this is the one factor they ever want to do. Few have this kind of determination, and that’s what makes the story fascinating and touching.

Film Notes

Ballet in Tandem 舞徑
Directed by: Yang Wei-hsin (楊偉新)
Languages:Mandarin and English with Chinese and English subtitles
Running Time: 143 Minutes
Taiwan Release: In theaters

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