City Paper is not for tourists
When British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon was creating a new Swan Lake for the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2004, he photocopied pictures of every Degas dance painting he could find and plastered the images all over the studio walls. Saturday, the Phillips Collection puts that creative process in reverse. The museum has 30 real Degas works hanging on the walls, and while you can’t see dancers in the flesh, you can attend a screening of Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, as performed in 2009 by Germany’s Badisches Staatstheater Ballet. The screening coincides with the final weekend of the museum’s special exhibit, Degas’ “Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint,” which closes Sunday. The exhibit features ballerinas in less-than-flattering positions, stretching, flexing, and futzing with their shoes. “What struck me most of all was how accurate all these paintings are in their depiction of the rehearsal process and how things haven’t really changed,” Wheeldon says in an interview with Wall Street Journal dance writer Robert Greskovic. The Swan Lake showing also opens a Wheeldon-heavy ballet season in Washington: In April, the New York City Ballet will perform an as-yet-untitled new Wheeldon work, and on Feb. 1, American Ballet Theatre will give the Washington premiere of his Thirteen Diversions. Guess who will be the starring dancer? Sarah Lane, Natalie Portman’s Black Swan body-double. Because in the ballet world, Swan Lake is never more than a few steps away. The film shows at 2 p.m. at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. $10–$12. phillipscollection.org. (202) 387-2151.