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Screenshot 2021-05-11 at 12.12.04
Courtesy of New York City Ballet

Sofia Coppola’s new short film celebrates the reopening of theatres

Showcasing the New York City Ballet’s first on-stage show after COVID, the film captures the long-awaited return of live performance

Filmmaker, actor, and former Dazed cover star Sofia Coppola just dropped a short film celebrating the New York City Ballet’s return to the stage after a year-long pause due to COVID.

Shot in black-and-white by French cinematographer and The Beguiled’s director of photography Philippe Le Sourd and supported by Chanel, the film showcases the dancers’ journey from intimate rehearsals to the final on-stage performance at the David H. Koch theatre for City Ballet’s digital 2021 Spring Gala.

Captured through abstract angles, the 24-minute film features a solo from dancer Anthony Huxley – which was choreographed by City Ballet’s artistic advisor Justin Peck – and multiple duet performances. For the main number, the film erupts in vibrant colour, where dancers in blue and white costumes perform together at the theatre.

“The challenge for me was to convey the feeling of seeing live dance,” Coppola explained in The New York Times. “A lot of dance is filmed in a very flat, standard way. But getting close up, which is thrilling in rehearsal, doesn’t always translate onto film either. I had to move the camera much more than I am used to, and try to give the feel of experiencing a live performance from different vantage points.”

After the performance, dancers are shown hugging and celebrating their return to performing with each other on stage. According to Coppola, the film aims to commemorate art and theatre coming back to life post-pandemic.

“In the theatre, there are all these craftspeople who are doing it really for the love of their art,” the director said. “There is a purity there that gives me so much in my spirit.”

Watch the film below, which starts around the six-minute mark.