Posted by Rebecca King on 10.27.2011
On Friday October 28th at 9:00 pm, Miami City Ballet will be coming into your living room by way of PBS’s Great Performances: Dance in America. (Check your local listings). For this evening of dance, Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp, the company will showcase a broad range of strengths: precise classical ballet technique in George Balanchine’s Square Dance, contemporary athleticism with Twyla Tharp’s Golden Section, and neo-classical ballet with a western flare in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.
This program was filmed last September, during which I shared my experiences from the filming here on TENDUS. After the filming concluded I interviewed the director of the program, Matthew Diamond. With the airing of our Great Performances event nearing, I spoke with Mr. Diamond for a follow up interview.
Immediately after we wrapped filming, the editing process began. “I was extremely involved in the editing process,” Diamond told me. There were a total of four cameras shooting at all times. During the filming process, Matthew would be in the video booth doing a “live edit.” With this combined footage, “Edward [Villella], the producer, and the ballet mistresses were all getting a good idea of what the program would look like right off the bat,” Diamond explains.
Each section was shot numerous times. In many cases, though movements are occurring in chronological order, these clips may not be from the same take. “Literally you might see someone up in a lift from the first take and when they land you may be seeing the fifth take. You can’t perceive that, the audience can’t perceive that, and I can’t perceive it after the fact, but I know what I am looking for.”
I could only imagine that choosing the best takes of the dancing would be the most daunting task. Diamond revealed that he had help with this; “One thing I was very attentive to was Edward and the ballet mistresses as they gave me their notes on the quality of the dancing. They made the decision on the dancing and then I make the decision on the editing. I totally trust them.” The differences between editing dance footage and editing a television drama, are not be as obvious as one might think. “The editing process for dance is always going to be reliant upon the music. With a television show that would sometimes be a drama or be live, literally every take is different because the actors are saying their words fresh for the first time and they will say everything a little different.” He told me that often with speaking clips, the director will be forced to use a shot with a different angle than was originally planned. In dance, he explains, “the choreography dictates the camera angles.”
“I think the hardest part of this project has been that these ballets have been shot before for television. I really wanted there to be a fresh approach that would still please the creative forces behind it,” Diamond says. Before airing, the final draft had been sent to both the Balanchine foundation and Twyla Tharp for their approval. “Their feedback was universally fantastic.”
What has Mr. Diamond been up to since filming Miami City Ballet? He said he has not filmed any dance in this past year, but has filmed a made-for-television movie and filmed a one-woman show in Washington. These air dates have not yet been announced.
He too will be watching on October 28th, or “at the bare minimum I will put it on Tivo, I don’t know yet what is happening that night,” he told me.
To experience this evening of dance for yourself, tune in to your local PBS station on Friday October 28th at 9:00 pm! Leave your comments here to let the Miami City Ballet dancers and Matthew know how you enjoyed it!
Follow me, @bexking on Twitter, to follow me as I live tweet during the show at 9pm EST.