Ballet 422

Documentary maker Jody Lee Lipes looks over the shoulder of Justin Peck, a young dancer with the New York City Ballet, as he embarks on a prestigious assignment to create a piece for the company’s winter 2013 season. This feature unfolds in the sober, observational style of Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse (2009) and Crazy Horse (2011), but without the bureaucratic detail that shores up his studies of cultural institutions. Title cards breathlessly count down the two months leading up to the premiere, as Peck works with his dancers and confers with the orchestra conductor, set designer, and costumer. Yet aside from the time constraint, there isn’t much tension here, or much insight into the creative process; Lipes gives so little sense of what the piece is about or what it means to Peck personally that the ongoing deliberations over it float around in a vacuum.