Ballerina, a documentary that premieres at Starz FilmCenter on Friday, March 27, may not be an especially daring piece of work, but its subject matter is so fascinating that the results are regularly compelling anyway. Director Bertrand Normand's look at Russia's Kirov Ballet is primarily a celebration, and the five ballerinas he focuses on are either rising stars or current ones, as opposed to, say, a newcomer who crumbles under the pressure or an aging artist trying desperately to stave off the inevitable for one last season. But he does offer intriguing glimpses at the darker side of this beautiful form: auditions in which topless ten-year-old girls are casually twisted and stretched to test their flexibility, and sessions in which hard-edged teachers and choreographers fail to offer a single comment that feels remotely positive. Such moments make the gravity-defying dances seem that much more miraculous.
"On Their Toes: An Evening With the Colorado Ballet" takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Starz, 900 Auraria Parkway; the event features a screening of Ballerina plus appearances by Colorado Ballet performers. Tickets are $11 for the general public and $8 for Denver Film Society members. The film also screens at assorted times through April 2; learn more at 303-595-3456 or www.denverfilm.org.