Swanning Around

by Jay Nordlinger

And now for something completely different — and completely wonderful. Today, I begin my series on Julie Kent, the great ballerina, who retired last month (after the longest career anyone has ever had with the American Ballet Theatre). The series is in three parts.

In Part III, we will talk a little about dance on video, or in films. I ask Kent, “If someone watches a video of you online, has he seen Julie Kent dance, sort of?”

She answers, “He’s seen a film of Julie Kent dancing, and that is something else. As soon as you film ballet, it’s no longer ballet. It’s film. A film of ballet. Because what makes any live performance so moving is that, well, it’s a live performance. And you are there to experience it. As soon as it’s filmed, the whole medium has changed. It’s different. It’s still beautiful, and it still has value, but it’s a captured moment, as opposed to a live moment.”

Oh, well: Have a brief video of her in Swan Lake anyway. It’ll be a break away from the everyday, as a fast-food slogan once had it.