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Director Maja Friis creates a unique look at the life of Swedish ballerina Elsa Marianne von Rosen in Ballerina. Combining newly choreographed scenes, archival material, and new recordings of von Rosen, the documentary explores the way in which ballet enriched von Rosen’s life, but also threatened to stand in the way of it.

Instead of creating a typical documentary looking at one person’s life, director Maja Friis creates a ballet expressing the ideas of Elsa Marianne von Rosen’s life. With minimal narration, viewers experience von Rosen’s world, instead of just hearing about it. It’s extremely interesting, but will ultimately leave audiences divided. If your interest was in learning the life story of a famous ballerina, disappointment may be the final outcome.

It’s not that Friis doesn’t explore the life of von Rosen, it’s the way in which it’s done that affects the film. Told mainly through dance routines, with quotes or small passages from von Rosen’s autobiography narrated over the scenes, this becomes less of a biography, and more of an artistic piece. It’s certainly a beautiful piece of art, but one that only appeals to fans of dance.

Is Ballerina Essential Hot Docs Viewing?

If you have any interest in dance, this is a gorgeous experience that shouldn’t be missed.

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