Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer may be the dullest title in the history of moviemaking, but it’s not inaccurate; David Barba and James Pellerito’s doc foregrounds Marcelo Gomes’s beautiful body even as it revels in his good brain, excellent spirits, flawless dance technique, and sense of humor. It’s organized around the people (his relatives, his dance partners, American Ballet Theatre’s director Kevin McKenzie) who love him, the places (Brazil, Boca Raton, Paris, New York) where he developed his instrument and performed, and his ruminations on his future as he nears the end of his performing career.
Seven years in the making, the film is a paean to Gomes’s body and the people who help him keep it together: teachers, a trainer, physical therapists. Thirty-seven when the film wrapped, he was beginning to suffer frustrating injuries; he smiles through the pain, and makes forays into choreography and teaching. “You have to be completely humble and completely confident,” he observes, striding around stunning landscapes across the globe.
Gomes came out on the cover of the Advocate in 2003, a move that didn’t seem to hurt his career one bit. He credits the mentorship of a gay uncle with helping him grow into a happy man. Ballerinas dote on his sensitive partnering, and audiences flock to his performances.
As I was writing this review, word came out that Gomes had resigned from ABT after an allegation of sexual misconduct eight years ago. That means your best chance to see him dance in the foreseeable future will be to get down to Film Forum and take in this adoring movie.
Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer
Directed by David Barba and James Pellerito
Retribution Media/Cinema Tropical
Opens January 3, Film Forum