The mysterious ballet drama Tiny Pretty Things was first aired on Netflix on December 14, 2020. It has been a popular streaming series. The show was created by Michael MacLennan based on Dhonielle Clayton’s Sona Charaipotra book. It takes place in Chicago’s competitive ballet world.
Tiny Pretty Things may have received mixed reviews, but the series reminds me of better ballet movies that were made in the past. Scroll down to see how the show ranks in the annals of ballerina films.
10. Center Stage (2000)
Center stage is both a guilty pleasure as well as a fascinating glimpse into the world of teenage ballet. It follows twelve youngsters from all over the globe who meet up at the American Ballet Academy in New York.
The drama centers around Eva (Zoe Saldana), Jody (Amanda Schull), and Maureen(Susan May Pratt), who each face their own challenges to become the best and brightest of ballerinas.
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9. Save the Last Dance (2001).
Save the Last Dance is a rom-com that relies on the chemistry of Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, and their love for ballet.
Sara leaves her hometown to seek refuge in Chicago and forms a romantic connection with Derek Thomas (Southsider, with a dark past). As their romance blossoms, Sara finds her passion for Julliard-trained ballerina again in her new environment.
8. Mao’s Last Dancer (2009)
Mao’s Last Dancer is based on Li Cunxin’s autobiography. It tells the compelling true story of an 11-year-old boy who was selected to study ballet in Beijing as part of Madame Mao’s cultural program.
After years of training, Li is sent to Texas in 1978 to participate in a foreign exchange program. Li is captivated by ballet, and a ballerina from America named Elizabeth Mackey (Amanda Schull) while in Houston. Li is forced to choose between what he loves the most and his country, and he becomes a well-known dancer for both the Houston Ballet Ballet and the Australian Ballet.
7. The Company, 2003
Based on her ballet training up to the age of 15, Neve Camp conceived the story. She was then cast as the lead choreographer in Robert Altman’s The Company. The ensemble piece is set in Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. It chronicles daily dance training.
Loretta Ryan (Campbell), as she climbs the ranks in the ballet troupe, squabbles with Antonelli (Malcolm McDowell) while dealing with personal issues that can bleed into her professional life.
6. Suspiria (1977 & 2018)
Tiny Pretty Things‘s thrilling mystery makes it a ballet movie with a surprising twist. Dario Argento’s classic horror film Suspiria is one such example. Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake (pictured) will also suffice.
Suspiria is the story of Suzy (Jessica Harper), an American ballet hopeful who was sent to Germany’s ominous Tanz Dance Academy. Suzy arrives at the academy and begins to notice something amiss. This leads her to discover a coven made up of witches within the school’s senior staff.
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5. The Turning Point (1977).
Herbert Ross’s The Turning Point was nominated for 11 Oscars. It features the exceptional dance style of Mikhail Baryshnikov, an all-world ballet star.
Two ballet-dedicated ladies are the story’s protagonists. They have different lives. Deedee (Shirley MacLaine), a former dancer, left the company to start a family and teach ballet at Oklahoma State. Emma (Anne Bancroft), a dying prima ballerina, wishes she had the same family as Deedee. Both Deedee and Emilia’s (Leslie Browne’s) daughters join the troupe. They reflect with pride on their pasts and feel regret.
4Billy Elliot (2001)
Jamie Bell, a British actor, made his screen debut as Billy Elliot, an 11-year-old exuberant who prefers female ballet to box, much to the dismay of his mother and older brother.
While Billy is confronted with backlash by those who think ballet is too sexy for young boys, he keeps his faith and does what makes him happy. Billy is able to use his natural talent and audition for the Royal Ballet with the support of Michael (Stuart Wells), his teacher.
3. Black Swan (2010)
Natalie Portman was a huge box-office success and won an Oscar for Best Leading Actress. She played the dizzying role of Nina Sayers, Black Swan.
The meta-psychological thriller, directed by Darren Aronofsky and featuring Nina, a stressed-out and uptight ballerina who is the star of her company’s production of Swan Lake, explores the psychological and mental devastation of Nina. Nina’s relentless pursuit of artistic perfection becomes more complicated the closer she gets to opening day.
2. West Side Story (1961).
West Side Story doesn’t focus on ballet, but the landmark 10-time Oscar-winning movie still has some of the most outstanding ballet dance routines in a feature-film musical.
Tony and Maria (Romeo & Juliet) are enthralled by the story of unrequited love. The Jets and Sharks, rival New York gangs, plan to fight for the neighborhood’s supremacy. The gangs can be seen performing high-flying songs and dance numbers, even when they’re not engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
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1. The Red Shoes (1948).
Powell and Pressburger’s 1948 film The Red Shoes, which is filled with stunning imagery, is one of the most important movies ever made about ballet. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Best Art Direction. It also won Oscars for Best Musical Score and Best Art Direction.
The movie is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about Victoria Paige (Moira Shirer), who is a dedicated dancer and forced to choose between her dream man or her long-held goal to be a prima ballerina. The show’s director, The Red Shoes, becomes jealous of her love for the composer and vows to end her career.