Review: ‘Of Heart and Courage: Bejart Ballet Lausanne’

Not the straightforward tribute to a famed ballet company and its founder one might expect.

Not the straightforward tribute to a famed ballet company and its recently deceased founder one might expect, Arantxa Aguirre’s “Of Heart and Courage” finds a compelling narrative hook in the high-pressure transitional moment as succeeding artistic director Gil Roman prepares the Bejart Ballet Lausanne’s first, crucial post-Bejart program. Accomplished docu is a natural for artscasters and looks good enough on the bigscreen to tempt specialized arthouse distribs.

Selected by his mentor to lead the company onward — and not just as a vehicle for Bejart repertory — Roman is well aware of the dauntingly large shoes he’s expected to fill. His own choreography, as well as leadership, must prove worthy to secure the future of a beloved institution hitherto unimaginable without its founder’s active guidance. Daringly, Roman chooses to prove his mettle by staging BBL’s first-ever bill sans any Bejart works. We glimpse rehearsals and other behind-the-scenes aspects, with dancers past and present interviewed. New dances excerpted look exciting, though disappointingly, we don’t hear public/press response after the climactic gala. Bejart himself is heard on archival tape and seen in stills, but the focus here is very present-tense. Packaging is first-rate.

Of Heart and Courage: Bejart Ballet Lausanne



A Latido Films presentation of a Lopez-Li production. (International sales: Latido Films, Madrid.) Produced by Jose Luis Lopez-Linares. Executive producers, Massimo Saidel, Malte Ollroge. Directed by Arantxa Aguirre.


Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Carlos Carcas; editor, Sergio Deustua. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 6, 2009. Bejart Ballet Lausanne. French, English, Spanish dialogue. Running time: 82 MIN.


Gil Roman, Corps de Bejart Ballet Lausanne.

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