THE SCOOP | Documentary ‘Crystal Pite: Angels’ Atlas’ To Premiere In Vancouver & Toronto October 2022

By Anya Wassenberg on September 8, 2022

Artists of the Ballet (Photo: Karolina Kuras)
Artists of the Ballet (Photo: Karolina Kuras)

A feature documentary titled Crystal Pite: Angels’ Atlas will receive its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on October 2, followed by its Toronto premiere on October 3. The film, commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada, and produced by Visitor Media, will be performed in Toronto as part of Fall For Dance North.

The film will make its broadcast premiere later this fall on the Documentary Channel.

Hope Muir, Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director and Barry Hughson, Executive Director of The National Ballet, made the announcement on September 7. Angels’ Atlas was created by Pite for the NBC in 2020.

The film was directed by noted documentary filmmaker Chelsea McMullan (My Prairie Home), and produced by Sean O’Neill. It gives audiences an inside glimpse as Pite and the company go back into rehearsals after the two-year pandemic shutdown for a remount. The film offers insight into Pite’s creative process as a choreographer, including interview and rehearsal footage, leading up to the opening night — which was their first time back on stage.

“Chelsea, Sean and the team at Visitor Media have brilliantly captured the honesty and humanity in Crystal’s choreography and revealed the collaboration, commitment and effort of the National Ballet artists in bringing her singular vision to life,” said Muir in a media release. “This marks the first time The National Ballet of Canada has commissioned a feature film, and I could not be more thrilled that this rare and impactful work has been captured on film, preserving the contribution of the artists who created the roles and giving us the opportunity to share it with audiences around the world.”

Along with the behind-the-scenes footage, the film offers an uninterrupted capture of the ballet, a 30-minute work. The performance was shot over a three-day period at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, with a backdrop of moving lights that underscore the ballet’s themes of impermanence vs the vitality of the human body.

Award-winning cinematographer Maya Bankovic served as director of photography.

“Working in collaboration with Crystal Pite to document her creative process and capture the singular brilliance of Angels’ Atlas for the screen was an unforgettable experience,” said McMullan. “I’m grateful to The National Ballet of Canada for taking the leap into a new form with us and to the incredible artists of the company for allowing us inside their experiences of coming back to the stage after so long and for sharing their immense talent as we worked to capture the artistry of the piece at the highest level.”

Backgrounder: Crystal Pite

  • Began her career as a dancer with Ballet BC in 1988;
  • Joined Ballett Frankfurt in 1996 under William Forsythe;
  • Became resident choreographer of Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal from 2001 to 2004;
  • Produced original works with Kidd Pivot, her company that she formed in 2002;
  • Has become an in demand choreographer all over the world;
  • Currently Associate Choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater, Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre and Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells, London.

Pite created Angels’ Atlas to great acclaim on its premiere in 2020. It will make its US premiere at City Center in New York City in March 2023.

Vancouver International Film Festival tickets here. Fall For Dance North tickets can be purchased here.

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