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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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We used to have an "other arts" forum, but that became jammed with irrelevancies. I'm willing to hold onto this as a closed subject temporarily, until a definite tie to ballet can be established. When we discussed Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, it was on Buddy Board, but you're not quite eligible for that forum yet. When I can identify a surer relationship to ballet or not, then I'll revisit this. Closed for now.

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OK, a little checking done, and this movie is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story of the same name, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". The screenwriters seem to have taken liberties with the original material and renamed the character of Hildegarde into "Daisy", which I bet they conveniently borrowed from The Great Gatsby. They've remade her into a ballet dancer from the daughter of a famous Civil War general, and I'll also bet that the ballet is to reference Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, and her obsessive/compulsive relation to the art. In the short story, she doesn't dance much except the two-step and the waltz.


Choreographer for the production is listed as Michelle Johnston, whom I remember as a choreographer for a couple of movies and videos, but nothing particularly balletic. I think we should see if the ballet is an important part of the movie, or just plot-dressing, or if it's even ballet.

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I agree with you completely. :yes: Yes, I read the original story, and was stunned by how different this was. Please, feel free to remove this. I'm not fussed at all. :)

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Aw, I think we can leave it. As we learn more about the show, at least you and I might have a discussion on comparative literature and why screenwriters do what they do to source material! :yes:

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I read the short story about...five years ago, as a part of Fitzgerald's short story anthology. It was one of my favorite of his stories, but seeing the trailer...Eh. Ballet was no part of the story, so I was a bit miffed at seeing it added on (amongst even more film add-ons.) As I recall, Hildegarde was certainly no ballerina, but also the love story was not the centerpiece of the story. I was personally the most amused by little Benjamin receiving a uniform from the army, despite reporting as...brigadier general. :)


Anyway, on the initial teaser trailer there was a snippet of a ballet studio and a young redhead doing fouettés en pointe. So we'll see how that figures in...!

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I quite liked the story- actually, it rather frightened me, strangely enough. However, I actually think the movie looks like more my thing. Not better, by any chance, but something that I would find very interesting. It seems very tragic, which the story wasn't really.

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DH has seen this movie and confirmed that the Cate Blanchett character is a ballet dancer. There are references to George Balanchine, Agnes De Mille, and the Bolshoi. There are several scenes involving ballet performance and class. He didn't tell me any more because he doesn't want to ruin it for me. :)

He did say that it is a superb, beautifully acted, and richly produced epic film, best seen on a big screen.

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As the show doesn't open for another 19 days, I'm presuming he was somehow able to see a preview?


People who do movies based on Scott Fitzgerald works tend to want to show that they know something about him and Zelda by tossing in biographical matter whether it's in the original text or not. Zelda was a childhood success as a dancer, and when she and Scott moved to Paris, she thought she'd take it up again. She was able to take classes with Lubov Egorova, and when they moved back the the US, she did occasional performances with the ballet of the Philadelphia Opera, under the direction of Catherine Littlefield.


The short story is partially based on thwarted ambition and the expectation of society regarding age-appropriate activity. Sort of a pioneering work on ageism. Aspiration is a continuing theme throughout Fitzgerald's writing career. He and Zelda were the poster children for the Roaring Twenties, but were so self-destructive that they hold a fascination for some people.

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Yes, he is a screenwriter/director, so he is invited to screenings by the Writers and Directors Guilds, and sent DVDs of most of the new films that will be in contention for the various Industry awards. It's "For Your Consideration" season.

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The movie hired young dancers from my area (including myself :lol: ) as extras to dance as students in the class Ms. Blanchett was 'teaching.' I have no idea how much of this will actually end up in the movie though. The steps we did were classical but pretty basic as the 'class' was a variety of ages. So... I can't really tell you if there is much of a focus on ballet.

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Really cool, Dancer2010!!! Was it a fun experience?

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It was easy to see why these films have such large budgets.

We were extras and with the little bit of filming and costume fittings we had three catered meals and made somewhere around $250. It wasn't too serious so it ended up being a fun excuse to miss rehearsal and get paid while doing so. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw the movie Friday night and am wondering if Cate did her own dancing? I saw a quote that said she did everything but the big pirouette series and a leg lift. If she did do her own dancing she did quite a good job. I thought it could possibly be Wendy Whelen as a body double.........but I can't find anything to support this.

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