According to famed dancer Benjamin Millepied, ballet is all about, at its core, the relationship between music and movement. It is when these two elements are working in unison that the art form is most powerful. As directors Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai show in their documentary Reset, achieving this harmony, and making it look effortless in the process, takes a lot of grueling work.
After spending 20 years as principle dancer at the New York City Ballet, Millepied, who is married to Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, was named as the Artistic Director of the prestigious Opéra National de Paris. It is his first production as Artistic Director, a 30 minute ballet entitled Clear Loud Bright Forward, that Demaizière and Teurlai focus their lens on. Reset takes audiences from the conceptual stages, where Millepied tries to visualize the ballet in his mind while listening to the score, all the way through the 39 days of rehearsals leading up to the show’s opening night.
Similar to Jody Lee Lipes’ Ballet 422 last year, which explored the New York Ballet production created by choreographers Justin Peck, Demaizière and Teurlai patiently observe the various aspects, including the physical demands and ideologies, associated with the day-to-day behind the scenes efforts required with putting on a ballet performance. While the cinematography helps to accentuate the beauty of the elegant movements on display, the film is not without its minor missteps.
As engaging as Reset is, Demaizière and Teurlai never fully justify the film’s two-hour running time. Although they briefly introduce the viewer to several of the dancers in Millepied’s ballet, the performers are not given enough time to show their depth as individuals. Furthermore, since the film is primarily about Millepied’s creative process, and the rehearsals to perfect his vision, there are times when Reset feels unnecessarily repetitive. It takes far too long to get to the actual production which, from the segments we see, is magnificent to witness.
Despite these issues, Reset’s overall grace shines through. The film glides across the stage while celebrating both ballet and the artistic process every step of the way.