The life of a professional ballerina is consistently about making or not making the cut, underlined by this 2010 documentary’s opening and closing scenes. We begin as flies on the wall during “cattle call” auditions for intensive summer study at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Stenciled numbers are pinned to little leotard fronts and asipirants are called to the studio by the dozens. The chosen ones bid farewell to their families and ship off to a Manitoba dormitory. At the end of four work-hard, play-hard weeks, they’re narrowed down yet again, to the select few invited to train in residence year-round.
By focusing on the program’s younger levels—girls ages 11–14, most living away from home for the first time—TuTuMuch captures many dancers in mid-decision about how much of their lives they’re willing to devote to ballet. (Alicja’s mother speaks frankly about wanting her to have the dance career she didn’t; Alicja seems to be more interested in socializing, and the school officials take note.) Director Elise Swerhone casts perhaps too many leads to draw us in (and ignores the school’s boys), but as a group portrait, TuTuMuch makes the cut.
CICFF screens TuTuMuch at 10am Thursday, October 27, at 9:45 at Thorne Auditorium (375 E Chicago Ave) and again at 7pm at Facets Multi-Media (1517 W Fullerton Ave).