“Behind the Curtain -
Being a Professional Dancer”

A film by Simone Winkler

All twelve of them have something in common. They came to Manhattan to take on the challenge of becoming a professional dancer.

“Behind the Curtain” takes us back to these dancers very first steps. It chronicles their dreams and struggles, the day-to-day grind and breakthroughs that come as a result of hard work. It is about how they kept going throughout their careers - their lives.

Among others, the group is comprised of Prima Ballerina Assoluta Eva Evdokimova, the first soloists of the New York City Ballet, Wendy Whelan and Nikolaj Hübbe, as well as solo performers from the Martha Graham Dance Company. It is about how passion can draw you.

It is a declaration of love.

Further Information

DVD-Release Date

April 2006


Film in color
Format: 16:9
TV Standard: NTSC, PAL
Duration: 67 Min.

Film festivals

Napa Sonoma Film-Festival, California, 11 August 2006

“Shall We Dance” Festival des Tanzarchivs, Cologne 18 - 20 October 2006

Film premiere

Premiered on 27 April 2006 at the Babylon Cinema, Berlin, Germany (Mitte area)


ZDF Theaterkanal (Theatre themed TV station: Aired in October, 2008 at 10:30 PM on the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th.


Berlin, 1 May, 2006

Between a Lifelong Dream and Grief Counseling

Simone Wiest's “Behind the Curtain” Dancers, interviewed in New York

The film, by Simone Wiest, features an entertaining 70 minutes in which twelve more or less prominent dancers, living in the American metropolis of New York, talk about their jobs, their career, day to day lives, and their aspirations. “Eva Evdokimova, the Prima Ballerina Assoluta and former ballet star at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, was clearly the most romantic of her generation. As a child, she would watch rehearsals in awe from the window of the Nurejew and Fonteyn.” While dancing, as early as age five, Danish soloist, Nikolaj Hübbe, was fascinated by the light of the stage. It was then that he asked himself, what is, “behind the curtain?” This gave the film its title. Henning Rübsam finished his primary education in Hamburg, then went onto to Juilliard School, and is now a successful dancer and choreographer. Tadej Brdnik, a Slovenian soloist with Martha Graham Dance Company, came to New York at age 19, after winning a dance competition in Treviso, Italy, very much to the chagrin of his parents. During his studies he financed himself by working as a waiter in a NY restaurant. He later on also danced with Baryschnikow.
Them and many other nameless dancers, are portraied by the film via interviews, during rehearsals, and through on stage auditions. From time to time we see children at the beginning of their training and jobseekers with audition numbers in the dreaded mass auditions. Their openness in giving us an insight into New York through their perspectives as dancers makes this documentary touching and authentic. They have not become rich, complaine about lack of social recognition, looke enviously upon the strong musicians' unions, but rather, they feel privileged. Dance reflects the interior, urging outward. It is a form of catharsis. Particularly when they are feeling low, it brings them from their depths and raises their spirits. One generally lives very much in the present. The camera shows tension, concentration, pride, self-confidence, then zooms and, in short sequences, the close-ups also reveal the loneliness of someone who earns their money through the readiness and function of their body. They are all somewhat beautiful - stronger and happier than those who simply pass through the city, getting from point A to point B. Streetscapes full of tempo and energy mixed with the statements make this film a sensitive, unsentimental declaration of love to all dancers around the world. It has been nominated in festivals in New York and California.
Author: Volkmar Draeger

Published: "Dance For You Magazin",   August 06
and on www.tanznetz.de   Mai 06


They don’t merely let their bodies do the talking. Animated by Simone Wiest, the dancers come camera ready to share - and Eva Evdokimova, remembered as a Prima Ballerina Assoluta at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Henning Rübsam, a young choreographer from Hamburg, Nikolaj Hübbe, the Danish Principal of the New York City Ballet, his American partner, Wendy Whelan and Tadej Brdnik, a Slovenian colleague from the Martha Graham Dance Company all talk about what it means to be a professional dancer. In her documentary Behind the Curtain, Simone Wiest manages to show us the trick without disenchanting us. Even if the career is short and takes tons of sweat and does not pay off moneywise none of them would be willing trade places with millions of other pacing New York´s busy streets in search of finding happiness. “I am in harmony with myself,” says Rübsam whose work you’d want to see in his homeland.

Published: Magazine “Ballettanz”, May 2008


Director:Simone Wiest
Camera: Simone Wiest
Editing: Klára Mottlová
Color Grading: Steffen Schmidt
Sound Mixer: Dominik Rätz
Sound Studio: Michael Eiler
Graphics: Daniel Stüber
Music Composition: Hans Steingen - Big Noise Music sowie Crystin


Dancers: Prima Ballerina assoluta Eva Evdokimova
(former dance partner of Rudolf Nurejev)
Nikolaj Hübbe
(New York City Ballet)
Wendy Whelan
(New York City Ballet)
Tadej Brdnik
(Martha Graham Dance Company)
Carrie Ellmore
(Martha Graham Dance Company)
Doris Rudko
(Juilliard School NYC)
Val Suarez
(Steps on Broadway)
Henning Rübsam
(Sensedance Company)
Erica Dankmeyer
(Martha Graham Dance Company)
Sybil Watkins
Leah Barsky
Stephanie Queiroz
Additional Dancers:Stacey Menchel
Blakeley White
Ashley Sowell
Benjamin Degenhardt
Ana Suarez
Kirstyn Kelley
Ayuko Ono
Shizu Yaszda
Candace Jablonski
Sean Stewart
Meaghan Mchale
Andrea Haenggi
Yasuko Usui
Tori Sparks
Traci Klien
Katrina Currow
Meghan Merrill
Kyla Ernst-Alper
Melissa Lopata