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Inside Maestro’s Boldest Scene: The Dream Ballet

Early into Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, earlier than the motion switches from black and white to paint, Leonard Bernstein (Cooper) and his to-be spouse, Felicia (Carey Mulligan), depart a lunch in Massachusetts and find yourself on a Broadway stage.

In one of many movie’s most gorgeous sequences, Cooper phases a dream ballet, by which Lenny and Felicia start by watching a rendition of Fancy Free, the Jerome Robbins–choreographed piece from 1944 about sailors on shore depart, for which Bernstein composed the music. The dance begins to envelop them: Lenny will get up and begins to carry out one of many sailor’s elements earlier than the music evolves into the composition for the Bernstein musical On the City. Each Lenny and Felicia are swept up within the motion, their actions primarily foreshadowing the story of their complete relationship, a chaotic union full of love in addition to battle.

For Cooper, the concept for this break with actuality got here early on within the course of. As a substitute of a montage of Lenny and Felicia’s early relationship, he might use Bernstein’s music. “The primary factor was this realization of, Oh, if I might transition to On the City, which has a way more haunting, percussive, propulsive nature versus this type of magical, nearly idyllic, whimsical, musical melody of Fancy Free,” he says, “then we might go into actually telling the story of them breaking apart after which the world making an attempt to get them. I used to be like, Oh, this may be wonderful to do that all to a dance sequence.”

To perform this, Cooper recruited Justin Peck, the choreography wunderkind who had labored on Steven Spielberg’s West Aspect Story, one other venture involving dance initially conceived by Robbins. Peck would oversee the Fancy Free part of the scene after which devise authentic choreography for the On the City music. Collectively, Cooper explains, they labored on “the very best choreography to inform the story of, they’ll be pulled aside on this life, everyone’s going to be round them, there are going to be palms and eyes on them, after which they’ll attempt to discover one another.”

Peck was thrilled to leap on board and determine the best way to lead the viewers into every section of the quantity, which begins after Lenny and Felicia run away from Tanglewood, the famed live performance venue within the Berkshires, towards inventive endeavors that transcend Lenny’s work as a conductor.

“If we discuss it as a big-picture factor within the movie, it’s about Lenny displaying Felicia a aspect of himself that’s full of creativeness and coronary heart and [his] skill to dream,” Peck says. The On the City portion can be about “this second the place Felicia type of will get swallowed up into the creativeness of Bernstein, and he or she type of loses him after which finds him on the very finish and is thrilled by what she’s skilled.”

At first, a part of the method concerned selecting what a part of Robbins’s well-known work Cooper would carry out, after which truly serving to him prepare to perform that. The viewers already is aware of that Lenny is bisexual, and at first it appears he would possibly merely have an interest within the dancer enjoying the sailor. Then it seems he additionally desires to be the sailor. Peck and Cooper ultimately opted for a solo that includes a transfer by which Lenny bangs on his chest, a gesture he would repeat later within the movie.