Celebrated documentary filmmaker Wiseman turns his lens on the innermost workings of Paris's famous ballet company, following seven works from rehearsal to stage performance. Wiseman's camera catches choreographers Wayne McGregor and Angelin Prelijocaj rehearsing with their dancers, and the ballet's artistic director taking meetings to discuss staffing and operations issues, as well as benefactor opportunities. Thus, the daily life of this revered institution is captured; as an art form, but also as a commercial entity.
With no voice-over narration, no talking heads, and no on-screen titles, Wiseman's artful visual essay about art lets the audience bask in the aesthetic beauty of creation, while also exposing the nuts and bolts of how a preeminent ballet company actually operates. Exterior shots of rooftops, grand boulevards, and the marble foyer of the Palais Garnier recall the Paris of old; inside, Wiseman lets us see the sweat, discipline, and grinding machinery of a great 21st century business. Towards the end of this astonishing film, we see snippets of the finished dances, and it almost feels as if we have organically arrived at their completion, in cohort with their creators. "La Danse" soars in its simplicity and complexity.