Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: Sid Smith
    May not be the greatest dance documentary ever made, but it could well be the most accessible and touching.
  2. 100
    It gives you such an intense hit of creativity that afterward you may find yourself trying to jete out of the theater and into the street.
  3. Reviewed by: R. M. Campbell
    It captures the heart and spirit of one of the 20th century's most fabled ballet companies, with a history that stretches continents and decades.
  4. 90
    The meat of the film is their wittily edited interviews with company members, now in their 80s and 90s and scattered around the world, many of them still active as teachers and consultants.
  5. A captivating film that truly elevates the spirit, Ballets Russes is the most emotionally satisfying documentary since "Mad Hot Ballroom."
  6. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Enormously absorbing.
  7. A feature-length documentary, by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, of absolutely breathtaking sweep and joyous energy.
  8. Reviewed by: Sarah Kaufman
    An electrifying documentary.
  9. Nothing short of majestic.
  10. Goldfine discover so many fascinating themes within their seemingly narrow subject that anyone with the slightest interest in history or human nature will find it absorbing.
  11. The archival footage is so breathtaking, the reminiscences so piquant, that even a stranger to dance can't help but be swept up by this peek into such exquisite, now vanished glamour.
  12. 80
    It's a profoundly optimistic and delightful movie, for balletomanes and neophytes alike. It made me happy for days afterward.
  13. Ballets Russes does tell a marvelous story of midcentury show business, encompassing both the most exalted expressions of pure art and the sometimes grubby commerce that sustained it.
  14. 75
    The documentary traces the fiery history of Ballets Russes -- which for a time consisted of two warring companies.
  15. Reviewed by: Steven Winn
    If this documentary never quite makes the case for the deeper artistic or cultural imprint of the Ballets Russes, it does convey its enduring presence in these dancers' lives.
  16. 75
    You don't have to know an arabesque from an alligator handbag to enjoy Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine's loving documentary about the various incarnations of the Ballet Russe.
  17. Reviewed by: Paula Citron
    Ballets Russes should find a wider audience beyond dance aficionados. Like all good documentaries, the human element is the glory of Ballets Russes.
  18. Reviewed by: Sura Wood
    A captivating if somewhat conventional documentary, Ballets Russes is a paean to the groundbreaking, 20th century ballet troupe that began as a loose group of Russian refugees, metamorphosed into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and eventually split into two competing companies.
  19. 70
    Geller and Goldfine have assembled a vital historical document, covering a cultural era now mostly lost, corrupted imperceptibly but permanently when fledgling ballerinas started dreaming about Broadway and Hollywood instead of Swan Lake.
  20. Reviewed by: Phyllis Fong
    The documentary Ballets Russes enacts its drama with a light editorial hand and unavoidable sentimentality, rather like a roll call of the NBA's "50 Greatest Players."
  21. 70
    The troupe veterans interviewed, most in their 80s and 90s, are wonderfully passionate; the affecting ending shows them still working as dance teachers and archivists all over the world.
  22. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    One of the finest documentaries ever made about the performing arts, this magisterial history of the companies that danced under the name Ballet Russe will enchant dance aficionados and novices alike.
  23. Reviewed by: Bob Westal
    This very conventional PBS style videodoc should not be viewed before operating heavy machinery. However, there's plenty to fascinate devotees of the dance.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. PaulD.
    Nov 3, 2006
    Excellent documentary that acts as a valentine to a bygone age. The dance footage is marvelous, and made me want to see extended versions of some of the performances. Dancing must be good for your health and spirit, since many of the Ballet Russes' dancers worked well into their 80's and even 90's. Inspirational and entertaining at the same time. Full Review »
  2. NancyS.
    Jun 11, 2006
    brilliant, divine characters- honest, raw, poignant- ageing bodies,the mask of ageing- inside young vital passionate. Inspiring- this is how life should be lived- engaged, alive. The film carefully constructed and very emotional- pulling out all the stops. Full Review »
  3. LindaM.
    Feb 16, 2006
    What a Joy! I wished that it would go on forever. A fabulous look in to the origins of 20th century ballet. How wonderful to see the archival footage of those fabulous ageing dancers. To see them then and now. There bodies old now, but a spirit that is still young and full of life and joy of dance. How wonderful to have a look into what a dancer's life was like when dance itself began to change and evolve. Many of these wonderful people have passed away since this film was released. If this film was never made, so much of what they had to say would be lost to us forever. I can't wait to own the DVD! Full Review »