Original Title

Dancing Chaplin



Choreographer, Roland Petit is one of the twentieth century's great artists and continues to maintain his artistic energy into the new century. Inspired by both the films of Charlie Chaplin and the man himself (who he knew personally), he created the ballet, "Charlot Danse Avec Nous" (English title, "Chaplin Dances"). Brimming with humor and pathos, like Chaplin's films themselves, the ballet premiered in 1991 and in nearly 200 subsequent performances, has earned the love of audiences around the world.


It consists of two halves, the first entitled "The Process" and the latter "The Ballet". From when the idea was first broached, Suo had many discussions with Petit about how the ballet came about and how best to adapt it as a film. In addition he interviewed Chaplin's son, Eugene and the dancer who has played Chaplin in every performance of "Chaplin Dances" since its premier, Luigi Bonino. Suo then followed each of the 60 days of rehearsal and preparation to see how the international cast went about tackling the ballet. With cameras rolling the entire time, across Italy, Switzerland and to Japan, he then distilled that footage into the documentary half of the film.

The second half is based on Petit's ballet, "Chaplin Dances" which originally consisted of 20 scenes in 2 acts and from which Suo selected 13 scenes.  This allowed him to concentrate on the dancers' expressions and the intricacies of their steps revealing them in ways that would not be possible in a stage performance. All in all it's a novel and evolved piece of work: at once a respectful and affectionate depiction of such masterpieces as "Gold Rush", "The Kid" and "Lamplight" yet also a new expression of these works born of Petit's originality and approaching the very essence of Chaplin, the man. 

Luigi Bonino dances the role of Chaplin, as he has done in each of the performances of this piece while alongside him, Tamiyo Kusakari plays a number of female roles. The soundtrack features some of the great original numbers from Chaplin's movies along with work by J.S. Bach and Fiorenzo Carpi (known for film scores such as Louis Malle's "Zazie in the Metro"). Other music was created for the film by the director's long-term collaborator, Yoshikazu Suo.