“Suspiria”, “Nureyev: White Raven”, the great “Red Shoes” and more.

The White Crow

  • UK, France, Serbia, 2018.
  • Drama, biography.
  • Duration: 127 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.6.

In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev went on a foreign tour with the troupe of the Leningrad Kirov Theater. In Paris, he meets the local bohemian, which is very disliked by the KGB agents accompanying the artists. Then Nureyev decides to flee. At the same time, they talk about childhood and the formation of a great dancer.

The film, based on the biographical book of Julie Kavanagh, was directed by renowned actor Rafe Fiennes. He himself appeared in the picture in the form of a teacher, Alexander Pushkin. And the main role went to the dancer of the Tatar Opera and Ballet Theater named after Musa Jalil Oleg Evanko. Because of this, the main characters sometimes seem too grotesque: one speaks with an accent, the other replays. Although, in general, the picture rather closely conveys the life story of Rudolf Nureyev.


  • USSR, 1986.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 100 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.7.

The famous and talented Elena Knyazeva is preparing to stage the ballet The Master and Margarita. But the heroine is already 50 years old, so the leader gives the role to a young dancer, with whom he began an affair. Now Elena will have to teach the competitor herself.

The Soviet film by Boris Ermolaev and choreographer Vladimir Vasiliev subtly combines two complex themes. On the one hand, “Fouette” is almost a documentary about the difficult everyday life of ballet dancers. On the other hand, the film is dedicated to reflections on the inevitability of change and the passing of time. The melancholic atmosphere is complemented by poems by Valentin Gaft.

Polina, Danser Sa Vie

  • France, 2016.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 108 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.7.

Since childhood, Polina has shown an incredible talent for ballet. She entered a specialized school and then ended up at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. But after seeing modern dances, she decides to give up classical art and go to France to do something new.

The film is based on the French graphic novel Pauline by Bastien Vives. Interestingly, the author of the film adaptation Valerie Müller previously shot documentaries about the work of the choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. And then it was he who helped the director to stage “Ballerina”.

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The Turning Point

  • USA, 1977.
  • Drama, melodrama.
  • Duration: 119 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6.9.

Once ballerina Didi Rogers married a dancer, gave birth to children from him, and devoted her life to family and teaching. And her friend Emma stayed with the troupe and grew into a prima. Years later, they meet again and it turns out that Didi’s daughter Emilia is already starting a career in ballet. The desire to help the girl changes the lives of old friends.

Director Herbert Ross took the relationship between his wife, ballerina Nora Kay, and her friend Isabelle Mirrow Brown as a basis for the plot. And even more interesting is that Emilia was played by the daughter of the latter, Leslie Brown. That is, she embodied on the screen an image that was copied from herself. Also in “Turning Point” Mikhail Baryshnikov played his first dramatic role.

Anna Pavlova

  • USSR, Great Britain, Germany, Cuba, France, 1983.
  • Drama, biography.
  • Duration: 146 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.0.

Even as a child, watching the dancers from the window, Anna decides that she will become the best ballerina. This is how her path to glory begins. The great Marius Petipa helps the girl to become on stage, and on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater Anna rehearses the famous “Dying Swan”. In parallel with the story about the career of the ballerinas, her personal tragedies are also revealed.

The film was originally released as a two-part film. And only in 1986, the full version appeared, consisting of five episodes, which last more than four hours. Of course, it is better to watch this particular option.


  • Belgium, Netherlands, 2018.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 105 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.1.

15-year-old transgender girl Lara is preparing for a sex-change operation. At the same time, she enters a dance school and achieves good success there. But despite the fact that many people around her accept the heroine, she herself is ashamed of her body and, because of this, becomes isolated.

The picture received recognition from many critics, but at the same time, representatives of the trans-community accused the authors of an excessive obsession with the character’s body and an unhealthy attitude towards gender reassignment. However, everyone agreed that debutant actor Victor Polster did an excellent job with the role, and the topic of difficult ballet training was organically integrated into the main plot.

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Mao’s Last Dancer

  • Australia, 2009.
  • Drama, melodrama, biography.
  • Duration: 117 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.3.

Li Cunxin, an 11-year-old Chinese boy, is taken from his home province and sent to study ballet in Beijing. He endures grueling training and one day gets the opportunity to travel to the United States as an exchange student. In America, Lee falls in love with ballerina Elizabeth McKay and decides to stay with her. But the guy is still drawn to his homeland.

The painting by Australian Bruce Beresford is based on the autobiography of the real-life dancer Li Cunxin, who moved from China to the United States and then settled in Melbourne and became a stockbroker. The authors place more emphasis on Lee’s personal experiences and his relationships with others. This partly provoked criticism, who called “The Last Dancer Mao” too sentimental.


  • Italy, 1977.
  • Horror, drama.
  • Duration: 98 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.4.

American ballerina Suzy comes to Germany to study at a prestigious dance school. On the very first night, she witnesses a very strange scene: a girl runs away from the institution, who is then found dead. Suzy is engaged in ballet but gradually realizes that mystical horrors are happening at school.

The disturbing film by Dario Argento has become one of the director’s best works and a prominent representative of the Giallo genre, which combines horror, thriller, and eroticism. The director managed to create a dark atmosphere by combining unusual choreography, Goblin music, and bright colors. And in 2018, Luca Guadagnino made a remake of the film of the same name.

Billy Elliot

  • UK, France, 2000.
  • Drama.
  • Duration: 110 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.7.

Young Billy Elliot from a small mining town did not follow in the footsteps of his peers: instead of traditional boxing, he became interested in ballet. Even his father and older brother consider such an occupation unworthy of a real man. However, Billy’s persistence and talent gradually make everyone believe in the boy’s future success.

For young Jamie Bell, the role of Billy Elliot was his debut in a big movie. But his mother-choreographer helped him, so the actor managed to bypass about two thousand competitors at the casting. And the picture itself, inspired by the real story of the ballet dancer Philippe Mosley, was nominated for many prestigious film awards.

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Black Swan

  • USA, 2010.
  • Drama, thriller.
  • Duration: 103 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.

The talented but introverted Nina Sayers becomes the new prima of the ballet theater. Soon she will play in Swan Lake, but the choreographer doubts that the artist will be able to embody the two main roles. At the same time, a new girl appears in the troupe, who can take away her role from Nina.

Of course, in Darren Aronofsky’s film, ballet is only one of the artistic components of the plot. The picture is more about duality and mind games. But the scene where the main character is covered with feathers right during the performance will impress fans of the classic “Swan Lake” too.


  • USA, 1952.
  • Drama, musical, melodrama.
  • Duration: 137 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.

An elderly clown Calvero saves a ballerina from suicide. She decided to commit suicide due to an illness that made it impossible for her to dance. He cares for the girl, helping her to return to the stage again. But Calvero’s own career is irreparably collapsing.

For Charlie Chaplin, this film turned out to be largely autobiographical. The relationship of the protagonist with the dancer is reminiscent of the author’s romance with Una O’Neill. And after several failures, he did think that he was shooting his last picture.

The Red Shoes

  • Great Britain, 1948.
  • Drama, melodrama, musical.
  • Duration: 135 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.

Boris Lermontov dreams of finding the best ballerina who is ready to devote herself entirely to the stage and give up her personal life for this. He meets the talented Victoria, and she seems to him the perfect candidate. But soon the girl falls in love with the composer Julian.

The plot of the picture is largely based on the history of the relationship between Sergei Diaghilev and Diana Gould. And already an unusual version of the ballet based on Andersen’s fairy tale “The Red Shoes” is woven into it. Since a considerable part of the timing falls on the stage part, the authors invited real dancers from different countries to the main roles: the Scottish woman Moira Shearer, Leonid Massin, and Lyudmila Cherina with Russian roots, the Australian Robert Helpman, and many others.

What ballet movies do you like? Prefer biographical dramas or thrillers in which dancing is just a background?


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