In 1908, Canadian author L. M. Montgomery released the children’s novel Anne of Green Gables. The story follows Anne Shirley, an imaginative and joyful red-haired orphan who accidentally gets placed into the care of siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Since its original publication, the chronicles of Anne have taken pop culture by storm. From the subsequent five novels and stage plays to feature films and television shows, the tales of Anne know no bounds. With such an incredible history behind this beloved icon, it’s only natural that her next appearance would be in ballet.
This is Ballet: Dancing Anne of Green Gables takes viewers behind the scenes of Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s (CBJ) production of Anne of Green Gables. The company is famous for making ballet accessible and relevant to new audiences, and hope bringing this classic story to life will do just that. Directors Jo Enaje and Lori Endes beautifully visualize this concept, capturing the iconic essence of Anne Shirley. Both the ballet and the movie are an excellent showcase of legacy, vision, and the celebration of dance.
When it comes to describing the documentary, even “flawless” seems too little of a word. The film is informative as it teaches viewers about the world’s everlasting love for Anne Shirley. It also gives audiences holistic insight into the dance world through the eyes (or feet) of CBJ’s magnetic dance team. The movie also shares elegant behind-the-scenes footage with voiceovers from the cast and crew of the production. But the absolute standout is the direction.
“….behind the scenes of Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s production of Anne of Green Gables.”
Enaje and Endes capture what it takes to put on such a magical production with precision and style. What they accomplish is simply a delight. Scene transitions are gorgeous, and they shot intimate conversations organically. The co-directors also show the excitement of all the backstage mayhem. But most importantly, the directing duo represents the charm of the CBJ team as they take up the responsibility of adapting Anne’s story through dance. Blending graceful scene transitions with raw coverage of the ballet numbers, This is Ballet: Dancing Anne of Green Gables is a technical triumph.
Aside from these technical achievements, the documentary conquers what is hard to do with words alone. It gives viewers an inside look at why dancing is a great medium for entertainment and storytelling. The reliance on dialogue is eliminated, and the expression of feelings is solely based on fluidic body language and movement in costume. Dance isn’t about taking words and acting them out on stage. It’s about using them as inspiration for expressive movement. And Enaje and Endes represent this essence beautifully.
This is Ballet: Dancing Anne of Green Gables shows us that dance is as enriching as it is physically demanding. Witnessing the long and brutal rehearsal hours forced me to reflect on my personal love-hate relationship with the craft. But when it’s all said and done, the movie showcases one thing all dancers know too well: perseverance. Dancers persist through difficult choreographed sequences, rapid costume changes, injury, and challenging mentalities, all for the benefit of the art. And what better character to showcase such a triumphant pursuance of fulfillment than Anne of Green Gables? I hope this documentary on the timeless iconic Canadian story reaches audiences far and wide just as Canada’s Ballet Jörgen hoped their ballet would.
To learn more about This is Ballet: Dancing Anne of Green Gables, go to its Facebook page.