Choreographer Justin Peck is something of a big deal in the world of ballet. In a recent column, New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert addressed the growing “Messiah” chatter around Peck’s work, as critics starved for a Great (with a capital ‘g’) 21st century artist have assigned their dreams to the young man. That he’s is only 25 years old seems to only fuel the excitement. His pieces for the New York City Ballet have gotten rave reviews, and the old institution has continued to commission them. The fact that he is also a low-ranking dancer in the company’s corps de ballet makes the story even more interesting.
All of this makes him an excellent subject for a documentary, at least on paper. Ballet 422 follows the production of one of these NYCB commissions from start to finish, all the way up to its Lincoln Center premiere in January 2013. This is the third feature from director Jody Lee Lipes (NY Export: Opus Jazz) who is perhaps best known as a cinematographer, his credits including the narrative films Martha Marcy May Marlene and Tiny Furniture. As one might expect from someone with such a background,, Ballet 422 opts for a primarily verite approach. Lipes looks for beauty in the least obvious places, presenting a creative process full of details, questions and unexpected changes.