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By Phil Hall | January 17, 2009

Bertrand Normand’s pleasant but slender documentary shines the spotlight on five young women who are rising stars of Moscow’s Kirov Ballet. The women – Alina Somova, Svetlana Zakharova, Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina and Evgenia Obraztsova – may seem interchangeable to the non-ballet fan. Each is attractive, athletic, self-assured without being overbearing, and extremely talented.

“Ballerina” never truly digs deep enough to understand the significant physical and emotional demands placed on today’s ballet performers. Obvious questions on issues relating to diet, education, the disruption of social life and salary never receive much attention, and this leaves significant gaps in understand the full spectrum of responsibility that goes into being part of the Kirov. But there is a good deal of footage with the women training and rehearsing, so the physical demands of the profession are clearly marked out.

Of course, the performances are the tonic here, and ballet lovers will enjoy the footage of the young ballerinas taking command of their respective performances. One can easily overlook the film’s shortcomings to enjoy the majestic strength of the exciting dance footage.

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