The 5 best ballet documentaries display the grace and beauty of the skill, but also the hardship and stress dancers face on a daily basis. Ballet documentaries are not intended to reproduce the beauty of the stories told on stage, but rather to demonstrate the humanity behind the stories. Below is a list of the 5 best ballet documentaries.

  1. "Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet." This documentary follows a troupe that mixes both modern and classical ballet techniques, which makes the dance scenes particularly fascinating. The movie is one of the best documentaries, though, because of the time it focuses on the dancers when they’re off the stage. The result is a raw portrayal of the true nature of dancers, including what they struggle and aim for through their art.

  2. "Ballets Russes." A relatively recent documentary, this film focuses on the founders of the famous troupe that began in the 1900's. Viewers are given a tale of how the original dancers – now elderly – struggled to begin one of the first professional ballet troupes and what happened after its formation. There is no shortage of intrigue and power struggles in this ballet documentary.

  3. "Great Pas De Deux." This ballet documentary contains footage from famous ballets over the course of thirty years. Footage mainly includes professional performances of ballets such as Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet performed by famous dancers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov. As usual, watching Baryshnikov alone is enough to mesmerize anyone, but the other dancers don’t fall short in their jobs, either.  

  4. "Ballerina." Focusing on five ballerinas of the famous Russian Kirov Ballet Company, this documentary portrays what the dancers face in their attempts to retain their position and stand apart from others. More dance-intensive than other documentaries, this ballet film is one of the best because of its narrow focus. It’s impossible for viewers to not empathize with these brave ladies.

  5. "La Danse, The Paris Opera Ballet." What makes this ballet documentary one of the best is its simplicity. It is, after all, difficult to focus on anything other than the dancers with no other distractions such as music, or talking. Intriguing, too, is the films inclusion of what happens in the director’s office. No other film shows ballet for the – sometimes cruel – business it is.