Expecting [Stacey Menchel Kussel, USA, 2018]
Expecting is an artful and revealing dance documentary that charts summarily the career of ballerina Michele Wiles (former principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre) and her steps into motherhood, after consistently being told that ballerinas and pregnancy do not fit in the same context. Wiles is a top athlete and artist in her field, but like any other woman she faces the exhilaration and anxiety that comes along with the milestone of starting a family. Directed by Stacey Menchel Kussel the short film details how Wiles determinedly set out on her journey to directly combat those who challenged her ambitions to continue as a performer entering into this new maternal chapter.
The short begins with a close up of Wiles' feet in ballet shoes as she nimbly dances over a soothing instrumental piano soundtrack. The majority of the film is carried along in a similar fashion, allowing the camera to show Wiles doing what she does best. A heart to heart interview follows as she speaks openly about her struggles and the stigma surrounding ballet dancers and pregnancy. The movie discusses the theme of body image and explores the pressures that ballet dancers face as symbols of graceful perfection.
Kussel’s sensitive documentary features stunning footage of Wiles dancing at eight months pregnant and interviews that discuss her dance career, the creation of her company BalletNext, and her fight for positive body image in the world of ballet. The film is an intimate portrait of the poignant time before starting a family, and the beauty that can be found in life's transitions.
Expecting offers an insight into the realities of ballet dancers in this fly-on-the-wall document, and the different camera shots used help to convey Wiles’ primary concerns, with the soundtrack feeding into the theme of peace as the ballerina turned businesswoman welcomes her baby into the world.
'Expecting' was a film submission in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.