5 Documentaries About The Performing Arts

Jade Bates

Get a behind-the-scenes peek into the world of the performing arts with these five captivating documentaries.

When it comes to the performing arts, insight is key. Brilliant performances become even more brilliant when you have a deeper understanding of the art form. We’ve chosen these five documentaries because they provide insight into the world of ballet, music, contemporary dance, and opera. From the history of ballet to how violin bows are made, these docs are choc full of fascinating tidbits that will enhance your experience and appreciation for the performing arts.


I Dream of Wires 

I Dream of Wires is a fascinating documentary about the history of the synthesizer. 

Electronic music is everywhere. You can’t listen to the radio without hearing some form of synthesizer, autotune, or electronic drum beats. But where did it all begin? I Dream of Wires is a fascinating documentary about the origins of the synthesizer, from Robert Moog’s first room-sized prototypes to the modern synths that have become the forefront of EDM (electronic dance music). The doc features interviews with musicians like Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Gary Numan, Carl Craig, Morton Subotnick, and Vince Clarke (Erasure), talking about how the humble synth has influenced their music over the years. This documentary will leave you with some fascinating, and admittedly niche, knowledge sure to impress your friends the next time you listen to music.


Darcey’s Ballet Heroines 

Darcey’s Ballet Heroines is a documentary, hosted by dancer Darcey Bussel, that details the history of prima ballerinas.  

This documentary will leave you feeling like a ballet history expert. In Darcey’s Ballet Heroines, prima ballerina Darcey Bussel talks about the ballerinas who not only shaped her as a dancer but shaped the world of ballet altogether. Darcey takes us on a deep dive into the careers and achievements of some of the world’s greatest ballet dancers like Margot Fonteyn, Anna Pavlova, and Galina Ulanova. Their history comes to life with archival footage, interviews with ballet professionals, and even a look at some of their preserved ballet costumes. This documentary is a must-see for every ballet lover and will leave you with a new appreciation for the hard work and dedication of ballet’s heroines. 


Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages 

Tenor For The Ages is a feature-length portrait of famed tenor, Jonas Kaufmann. 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a professional opera singer? This documentary answers that question, and more. Get to know one of the 21st century’s greatest voices, tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Follow him through rehearsals, bouts of stage fright, and vocal injuries, and even find out what kind of honey he has in his tea. This documentary features interviews with his contemporaries, expert knowledge from conductors and musicians and, of course, plenty of footage of Kaufmann’s electric performances. This documentary will not only give you insight into the art of singing but also into the life of an opera singer. 


The Bow Makers 

The Bow Makers is a documentary about the history of the sting bow and focuses on some of today’s greatest bow craftsmen. 

Hear us out, this one is fascinating. This documentary is all about, you guessed it, the bow. Without this key piece of musical equipment, we wouldn’t have beautiful violin concertos, moving cello suites, or even playful fiddle music. It takes a high level of craftsmanship to create a bow, and as you’ll discover in the documentary, each bow is unique. See how some of the world’s best bow makers shape these essential accessories, watch world-class musicians put them to the test, and learn a bit about the history behind ”the most important instrument you’ve never heard of.” This doc will leave you with some pretty niche knowledge and it just may add to your appreciation the next time you see a violin in action. 


Forgotten Memories 

Forgotten Memories is a documentary detailing the life and learnings of living choreographic legend Jiří Kylián.

Discover what it’s like to be one of contemporary dance’s celebrated choreographers. This documentary is a peek inside the mind and creative process of famed choreographer Jiří Kylián. He revolutionized contemporary dance with his experimental and poetically inspired work. In this doc, Kylián takes you through his creative process, wanting to impart his knowledge to the next generation of great choreographers. Visit his childhood city of Prague, meet his partner and muse Sabine Kupferberg, and sit in on some of his rehearsals. Whether you are the next generation of great choreographers or the next generation of dance lovers, this documentary will inspire you to get up and move. 

There you have it. Five documentaries that will enhance your appreciation of the performing arts. From choreography to bowmaking and everything in between. Explore more arts documentaries on Marquee TV. 


Watch these documentaries and more

Join our community newsletter for the latest content and offers