There's something about the formalisms of the ballet world that gives one an almost racy feeling when its backstage doors open up. One of the great strengths of Ballet 422, directed by Jody Lee Lipes and produced by Ellen Bar (the latter a former soloist with NYCB; the two are married): all that takes place backstage remains unadorned. There are no back-stories, no interviews, and we're left not knowing the names of some of the dancers. Then again, ballet is about "showing and not telling," Bar told me over the phone. A dance doesn't come with footnotes or appendixes attached; when these are added, as is the case in most documentaries, they betray the very premise of the form. Bar and Lipes made the right decision when they chose not to try to "explain away" the inner workings of the art, leaving it just naked as it is onstage.
A scene from Jody Lee Lipes' Ballet 422. Image via Magnolia Pictures