Reel Shorts | First Position

4 05 2012

A documentary that follows six young dancers from around the world as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world in the eye-opening story, First Position.

Director Bess Kargman takes the audience inside the world of high pressure and achievement among a group of potential ballet dancers. The film follows six dancers, Italian-based, Aran, his Israeli friend, Gaya, a Sierre Leone survivor, Michaela, a brother/sister combo Jules and Miko, an Colombian hopeful, Joan Sebastian and a blond-leggy beauty, Rebecca as they prepare initially for the semi-finals in Italy and later the finals in New York.

The title of the film derives from the position that all dancers use in preparation to train and boy do they ever in this film. Kargman captures each dancers’ backstory including their motivations, their arduous training bad feet, pulled muscles and other trials and tribulations and for a few of them, their triumphant highs and for others, their heartbreaks. We watch their various routines and marvel at the synchronicity but where the film falls short is that we spend so much time watching our group that we don’t see any other routines which makes the final result a little awkward because our group has performed so admirable.

While the audience may be able to predict the outcome of some of the stories, to my amazement the documentary does have it’s unexpected twists that are surprising as they are effective. I must admit going in that I though I would find no interest in the film’s subject matter but I’m pleased to say that Kargman has made watching ballet dare I say . . . enlightening!

Grade: B

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