LOOKING AT THE STARS
February 5, 2017
Close your eyes and picture a painter, a poet, musician. Now close your eyes and picture a ballerina- now picture that ballerina as blind. The world of the blind ballerina is a small one, only existing at The Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind in São Paolo, Brazil. This is the world that director Alexandre Peralta invites the audience into in Looking at the Stars (Olhando pras estrelas).
Being the only school of its kind, the dancers and ballet masters are a tight knit group, revealing in dance and the shared experience of those around them. Peralta invites us into the lives of two dancers who study at Fernanda’s school. The first life explored is that of Geyza, the beautiful prima ballerina and the pride of the Ballet Association who lost her vision when she was nine years old. Poised and graceful, Geyza carries herself as a star. We follow her through many moments in her life- marriage, pregnancy and motherhood. As someone that has an difficult and inspirational life story, we watch her take on the same challenges as any other dancer and we see her face the same hardships and insecurities of new motherhood.
Simultaneously, Peralta brings us into the life of young Thalia, an ambitious middle schooler with a spark for life. Though not focused solely on Ballet, Thalia takes great joys in expressing herself artistically. Also having lost her eyes at a young age, it becomes clear that while she is feisty and charismatic, she has a hard time connecting with her classmates. Talking online with a friend, getting dressed up, and going with her mother to update her glass eyes are only flashes that paint a deeply rich life of your typical teenager.
This film is a gorgeously emotional portrait two young women living in São Paolo. While vastly inspiring, both young women communicate their need to be taken seriously as well. Serious in their art as an expression of themselves beyond the visual impairment. Peralta welcomes the audience to be a part of this world that is both small and universal, and sweetly reminds us that artists, including ballerinas (or authors as Thalia later becomes) can be beyond what we image when we close our eyes. The film is part of the Dance On Camera Festival 2017.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller