Morgan Spurlock’s “Day in the Life” has always been a good idea, the thought that we might to get to see some interesting people during one of their normal days is captivating. However, it seems that there are too many limitations to the form. I imagine the biggest challenge for Spurlock during the filming of this documentary series has been locking down interesting celebrities/performers and locking down a good day to film them. And it seems like most of the days it might be good to film one of these people is when there isn’t much going on. One day doesn’t give you much time to explore a person, and the series suffers because of it.
I think Spurlock’s best bet, if it were possible, would have been to follow a person around for one month and then pick the best day out of that group. That might have been too much to ask, though.
The Limitations Of “Day In The Life” Format
So here I am, a dude who is open-minded to all forms of art. I’ve never really gotten into ballet, although I really liked Black Swan, and yes, that might be the most ballet I’ve watched in my life in one sitting. I know I could probably appreciate the finer aspects of ballet, but it just hasn’t been a draw. So imagine what I felt when I saw this incredibly beautiful woman, Misty Copeland, one of the top ballet dancers in the world. My interest in ballet suddenly became piqued.
And then we proceed to see Copeland go to the Boys and Girls Club in The Bronx. She wants to tell other African-American girls that ballet is something they can do, too. Copeland is one of a scant amount of black ballet soloists in the history of the American Ballet Theatre, and for 11 years the only black woman, period. She feels obligated to tell others who might follow in her footsteps that its OK to pursue this dream. OK, so this is good. She’s an inspiration. I’d like to see her dance, now, please.
Then she goes to Harlem and the offices of Uptown Magazine, where she does an interview. We’re really beginning to see how important Misty Copeland feels it is to get her story out there, and to bring a new awareness to her field. Much of this episode is about, “No one in ballet looks like me, and I want to inspire others.” I, too, think this is very important. And I wish her the best. I’d like to see her dance, now, please.
Now we’re off to see her business partner, Kaylen. They’re trying to design a line of ballet clothing that fits normal women. Misty Copeland is no normal woman, you can see it in her legs. Her legs are thin, but muscular. Her calves are rocks. She’s 5’2″, petite and athletic, and wears a “medium.” And she feels like if the only step above her is a large, what are normal women wearing? So Kaylen shows her the line of clothing that they are about to produce and that’s all well and good. I’d like to see her dance, now, please.
On to an actual studio! The Dance Theatre of Harlem is one of the companies Misty dances for when she’s not with the ABT. We actually get to see her dance here…sorta. This is sort of an experimental piece that choreographer John Alleyne is trying to create. So here we get to see Misty do some moves that are graceful and beautiful, but in the end, it’s just practice. And as the wise Allen Iverson once said, “We’re talkin’ ’bout practice, man.” I will say that what I take out of this is that Misty practices here at the DTH for 4 or 5 hours. That’s amazing.
And then we get to see her dance…for a minute or so, and during the credits. She’s doing a production for the Manhattan Arts Center and it’s good stuff, but all too brief. And so you come out of this episode feeling shortchanged. With the musicians, it was OK we didn’t get to see them do much performing, because I think a lot of people have some idea what singing on stage might be like. But ballet is different, this is an art form that not a lot of people know about, and while there are some interesting things here and there, and I think it’s important to know that Misty Copeland believes she needs to spread the word, I’d like to see at least 5 minutes of uncut dancing, something that the 22-minutes (with ads) format should have been able to provide.
Here’s the teaser trailer for the episode:
It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed by this format, although I understand the challenges involved.