First Position

Another documentary that explores the world of aspiring ballet dancers is ‘First Position’, a documentary from filmmaker Bess Kargman.  The central narrative of this film is the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition that provides youngsters with the opportunity to win scholarships at prestigious ballet schools around the world.

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For many of the entrants the prize offers a route to professional dancing that would otherwise be beyond their reach.  Already singled out by their dance schools as potential stars, they find themselves mixing with others who are equally talented and just as committed.

The film explores the sacrifices made by these youngsters and their families.  Michaela has been adopted from Sierra Leone by an American family whose many hours preparing costumes attest to their levels of support.  Aran Bell has a supportive family, too, a commitment shown through the many miles they travel to support their son in competitions.  Then again there is Jules Fogarty from California who has to rise very early to attend class along with his much more dedicated sister.  He cares little for dancing but is here putting in the hours as his mother wants him to.

The mix of subjects is wider than in ‘Ballet Boys’ and not just because of the gender mix. There is the young man, Joan, from Colombia who moves to New York without his family so that he can continue ballet dancing.  Life without a supportive family with him is hard, but Joan is dedicated.

It is inspiring to see the youngsters in this film.  ‘First Position’ is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?

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