Pennsylvania Ballet at 50 showcases one of Philadelphia’s cultural treasures, the Pennsylvania Ballet, and highlights the Company’s 50th anniversary celebration performance in 2013 at Philadelphia’s historic Academy of Music. Performances of works by Christopher Wheeldon, Margo Sappington, and George Balanchine provide an entertaining and intimate look at three very different ballets.


“Pennsylvania Ballet at 50″ is a really strong documentary about an unsung American treasure. Watching a ton of performances over the years, showcases that Philly was really onto something. It didn’t hurt that the Academy of Music fed the program with such talent. The Ballet earned a natural reputation, but what does that mean in a country that only favors football and NASCAR? If a majority doesn’t watch, then does it matter as part of the national identity?

Ballet in non major art cities is dying. Hell, most cities are losing their Orchestras and other peripheral entertainment. In a down-turned economy, the Ballet is seen as a trivial pursuit of the rich and artistically inclined. The path to which has been so closed off for so long that most people don’t care anymore. The random yahoo off the street has no means to properly frame what they’re seeing. The interviews with the talking heads don’t do much to dispel the idea that we’re celebrating a meaningless anniversary for something that most people don’t realize exists. I appreciate the Arts, I just have an issue when they’re state controlled and paid for by people that don’t use it.

The DVD comes with extended interviews as the special features. It’s fairly typical for a focus PBS documentary. The A/V Quality is on par with similar documentaries. But, that’s not like it was something that would blow out your home theater. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to the curious.

RELEASE DATE: 05/13/2014

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