Friday, September 1, 2017

Polina: From the Classic Russian Ballet to the World of Contemporary Dance

By José Alberto Hermosillo

Inspiring and beautiful, “Polina,” or in French, “Polina, danser sa vie,” recites the incredible journey of a young Russian ballerina with big dreams and great expectations. 

"Polina" still courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories © 2017 

Based on the graphic novel by Bastein Vivés, “Polina” opens with an unforgettable and recurrent image of a seven-year-old girl performing in the woods.

Polina grows as a beautiful teenager. With discipline and talent, she continues developing as a ballerina in a prestigious Academy in Moscow.

"Polina" still courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories © 2017 
At the Academy, Professor Bojinski's military methods make Polina’s life more stressful. The tutor challenges his pupils with pain and strict discipline. “A real artist always longs for perfection,” he says.

The Bolshoi Ballet is one of the most significant contributions to Russian culture, a national symbol of pride. Every year, many young aspiring Russian dancers compete to be part of it. The Bolshoi is the ultimate goal. Polina is not the exception. She, as well, will do the impossible to be part of the most prestigious dance company in the world.
"Polina" still courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories © 2017 
In life, love always plays a tricky game -- Polina falls for Adrien, played by Niels Schneider (“Heartbeats,” “I Killed My Mother”), a charming French dancer who introduces her to the world of contemporary dance.

In France, Polina lands in the hands of a famous modern-dance guru named Liria Elsaj, played by the Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”).

Binoche is a chameleon of an actor who transforms herself into an extraordinary character with perfection in every film. 

Liria is a professional coach, as she demands that her talented dancers tap into the best of their interiors if they want to continue pursuing their dreams.

She firmly believes, “When you dance, it is important to feel the absence of someone you love.” 

She continues, “An artist observes, looks around, and masters his technique. A real artist is always looking for perfection. You must learn your craft and be ready for your big moment.”

In the streets, Polina bounces with the underground dancers of Paris, the unprivileged, marginalized immigrants who like to dance to contemporary music in the free spaces, plazas, and alleys. She is amazed to see the dancers moving with the freedom she never had. 

Jérémie Bélingard is a real-life star of the Paris National Opera. He plays a motivator who helps troubled kids improve through modern dance with striking techniques. 

"Polina" still courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories © 2017 

Bélingard’s presence is sublime. His interaction with Polina creates a turning point in the story and real meaning in Polina's life. 

For the role of Polina, directors Angelin Preljocaj and Valérie Müller-Preljocaj auditioned 700 dancers before they discovered Anastasia Shevtsova at the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg.

Anastasia Shevtsova is a real virtuoso. Her breakthrough performance in "Polina" is extraordinary - she has exceptional acting abilities and professional dancing skills.

"Polina" graces some of the most stunning locations from Russia to France and Belgium. The gorgeous cinematography is by George Lechaptois. He displays Polina’s world with elegance and beauty.

The original music score is by 79D. "Polina's" musical evolution seamlessly goes from the classics to the contemporary sounds of modern dance.

“Polina” is enjoyable, original, and breaks conventions, although the editing could be more timely, with smoother transitions to give a sense of modernity to the entire film.

Polina’s final conflict is within herself -- she has to make important decisions about her life. Will she play a character in “The Nutcracker,” perhaps in “Snow White,” or will she merely perform herself in contemporary ballet?

Remember, the best role of your life is the one where you can be yourself.

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Copyright © 2017 Festival in LA 


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