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Minnesota Film Arts brings ‘La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet’ to town

Minnesota Film Arts, god bless ‘em, has gotten a hold of director Frederick Wiseman’s much-talked-about new documentary, “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet.”  The film opens this weekend at the St.

Minnesota Film Arts, god bless ‘em, has gotten a hold of director Frederick Wiseman’s much-talked-about new documentary, “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet.”  The film opens this weekend at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis, and continues into February. The luxuriously long run — especially for a dance film — ensures dance aficionados, film buffs and newbies alike (and there’s new better introduction to ballet than this film) can all partake.

I first saw the Paris Opera Ballet more than a decade ago at Northrop and was transfixed. Exquisitely melding virtuoso technique with economical storytelling, the company set a new standard for me, which has rarely been matched. Wiseman’s prior films include “Model,” “Titcut Follies,” “Public Housing” and “Belfast, Maine.”

Wiseman applies his rhythmically cinematic storytelling, intelligence-fueled curiosity and documentary instincts to explore the place and presence of one of the world’s great ballet troupes and its backstage lives. He also hones in the creation of seven signature ballets.

One of them is “Genus,” by my current personal hero, Wayne McGregor. His mind-blowing “Entity” opened the current Northrop Dance Season last fall. Other ballets in the film include “Maison de Bernarda” by Mats Ek, “Paquita” by Pierre Lacotte, “Casse Noisette” by Rudolph Nureyev and “Orphée and Eurydice” by Pina Bausch.

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To watch the trailer, go here.

A.O. Scott, film critic for The New York Times, called “La Danse” “One of the finest dance films ever made.” No disagreement here.

Various times, Jan. 29-Feb. 11. St. Anthony Main Theater, Minneapolis. $5-$8.50. 612-331-4723