As a filmmaker and
former ballet student I have always been interested in ballet on film and how
the ballerina is portrayed. In the past I have often made films involving
ballerinas as characters, but have always wanted to make a longer piece focusing
entirely on the ballerina. In 2010 I approached dance companies in North
Carolina, where I lived at the time, and struck up an immediate rapport with
the staff and dancers at North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, NC. They mirrored my own excitement about
With this documentary
I want to give working ballerinas an opportunity to give voice to an icon that
is in danger of disappearing from our society. It has been argued that ballet
is dying and, thus, so is the ballerina. To accomplish a well-rounded portrayal
I felt it was important to profile three dancers: one at the beginning of her
career, one at her prime, and one preparing to transition. Luckily, at North
Carolina Dance Theatre there were three dancers that fit the bill and were
willing to be open and candid about their life experiences.
Due to the response I
have been getting to the trailer and the teaser I would like to step the
finishing of the film up a notch. Audio finishing is an area that really takes
a person with a special ear to perfect a final mix. By taking this film to a
sound professional I believe it will truly take it to the next level. I have
contacted some Denver (where I now live) area post-production houses that
project the cost to be $3-4k. In
addition to sound editing I also need enough money for film festival entry fees
and publicity materials.
I hope that you will
find a donation level that suits you and if you would like to discuss the film
further please do not hesitate to contact me. Please also feel free to visit the website, Facebook page, and production blog to learn more.
About North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Featured Dancers
All three dancers
featured in Strength and Beauty are
employed with North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte. Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux
is the president and artistic director of the company; he is assisted by associate
artistic director, Patricia McBride. Both are former dancers with New York City
Ballet under George Balanchine and bring formidable knowledge to their dancers.
They also create a nurturing and gracious environment for their dancers to
For this film, three
dancers were interviewed: At the beginning of filming Melissa Anduiza was in
her first year with the company; Alessandra Ball, in her seventh; and Traci
Gilchrest was completing her fourteenth and preparing for her fifteenth and final
season as a full-time company member.
At the beginning of filming, Melissa was
completing her first year as a professional ballerina at North Carolina Dance
Theatre. She has a degree in dance
from the University of South Florida where during her senior year she
choreographed a piece entitled “Stained Glass” that she performed at the
Kennedy Center. The summer before
her senior year at USF, she participated in an intensive dance program with Complexions Dance
Company. There, dancing alongside company members, she realized she wanted to
be a professional dancer. She also fell in love with Dwight Rhoden’s
choreography and the contemporary movement he creates. As luck would have it,
Dwight is the resident choreographer at North Carolina Dance Theatre. The
chance to work with him on a regular basis is just one of the reasons Melissa
is so excited to be working with the NC Dance Theatre.
Having grown up in
Miami with the sounds of salsa music drifting through the air, the transition
to Charlotte was at first a bit of a culture shock for Melissa. But while she misses those familiar
childhood sounds and being close to her family— which includes her parents, two
sisters, and a brother— the Queen City has definitely won her over. That’s because Melissa’s favorite color
is pink, and when she saw Charlotte’s streets lined in springtime with cherry
blossoms and redbuds, she knew she was in the right place.
Alessandra was raised
in Atlanta, GA, but neither of her parents are from
there. Her mother is Panamanian, so Spanish was often spoken in her home. Yet,
if you spend more than fifteen minutes with Alessandra, you’ll see that her
time in the South has left its impression. She exudes Southern hospitality, always making sure that
everyone in her presence is comfortable, happy, and never in need of anything.
Alessandra has been
with NC Dance Theatre for seven seasons.
She began her professional career at Colorado Ballet, but after
sustaining an injury she chose to leave Denver for Charlotte. There she joined
NC Dance Theatre, and in 2005, Artistic Director, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, nominated
her for the Princess Grace award. Alessandra won the award, which was presented
to her by Prince Albert of Monaco. At the ceremony she also had the great
pleasure of meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Alessandra left Dance Theatre briefly when an opportunity arose for her
to dance in Madrid for a year. She had always wanted to experience living
outside the United States and enjoyed her time there, but she knew she belonged
in Charlotte. Jean-Pierre happily welcomed her back, and today Alessandra has
perfected her dance technique. During filming of Strength and Beauty, she went to New York to dance
Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux for a special performance honoring Patricia McBride and
Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and this season she will be
dancing the lead in Sleeping Beauty.
Traci started her life
as a dancer at a later age than most, the ripe old age of eleven. Ironically,
she started out as a jazz dancer and only took a ballet class to improve her
coordination. But ballet felt so natural to her that she decided to leave jazz
dancing behind and focus on ballet.
With her dream of becoming a professional ballerina seemly out of reach,
Traci enrolled at Texas Christian University after receiving a full dance
scholarship. But before beginning her sophomore year she was offered a position
at Hartford Ballet, and she decided college could wait.
Even though her work
with North Carolina Dance Theatre has taken Traci away from her Texas home,
little reminders of it are everywhere. For instance, her
favorite room in her Charlotte home
is her kitchen, which she remodeled by herselfa few years agousing
tile for her
countertops that she brought back all the way
from El Paso. Traci’s
kitchen is the place where you are
most likely to find her relaxing, laughing, and cooking.
Traci is equally
comfortable with both classical and contemporary ballet, and
had many roles created for her, including the Sugar Plum Fairy in Jean-Pierre
Bonnefoux’s Nutcracker. Some describe the fourteen-season veteran as the ballerina
of which little girls’ dreams are made. In all modesty she states she’s just a
dancer; to her the ballerinas worthy of such praise are the likes of Margot
Fonteyn and Patricia McBride.
Currently, Traci is transitioning to a life off
the stage where she is excited to share her experiences and knowledge with a
new generation of ballerinas.
Have a question?
If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
Receive all of the above PLUS an invitation to the August Private research screening at the North Carolina Dance Theatre studios in Charlotte, NC (travel expenses and lodging not included). OR Receive all of the above PLUS an invitation to a July work-in-progress screening in Denver, CO (travel expenses and lodging not included).
Receive all of the above PLUS become involved in the editing process of the film by receiving passwords and links to in process clips and answering questions provided by the filmmaker to aid in tightening the film.
Receive all of the above PLUS hold a private pre-screening for your friends and family at your own home. If you live in either Charlotte, NC, or Denver, CO, then one of the dancers or the filmmaker will attend. Otherwise we can be there via Skype to answer questions after the screening.