08th Apr2013

‘First Position’ Review

by Dan Clark

Stars: Gaya Bommer Yemini, Michaela Deprince, Jules Jarvis Fogarty | Directed by Bess Kargman

Some may wonder why I would be interested in watching a documentary on ballet dancing, especially when I have the rhythmic abilities of a broken rotary fan. That is a legitimate question that deserves an answer. Personally I feel a big purpose of movies is having an opportunity to expose ourselves to things we would otherwise never experience. Plus a sign of a good filmmaker is the ability to take an isolating subject and present it in an interesting way.

First Position succeeds at accomplishing just that.

The film follows a variety of dancers that are getting prepared for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. Dancers from the ages of 9 to 19 look to use the Grand Pix to launch their careers as ballet dancers.

Director Bess Kargman covered a diverse cross section of contestants to give us a better idea of the different people that dedicate their lives to ballet. We saw a preteen boy still trying to maintain his childhood while devoting much of his life to ballet. A teenage girl, who was adopted from Africa as a child, tries to defy the odds once gain. There was a tremendous amount of human drama as Kargam showed us just how important this one event is. A lifetime of work is dependent upon one small performance. Giving us a peak into these characters lives made the climax as tension filled as any movie I have seen this year. While I still have no idea what the difference between a plie’ and a frappe’ is. (I think they are types of coffee) I can still appreciate the talent that was on display.

However I do wish First Position provided more insight into the dancer’s lives outside of ballet. This way we can better understand who they really are. Also it doesn’t show the downfalls of what happens to those that don’t make. That would have given this film a lot more substance.

First Position is on limited release across the UK from April 12th, courtesy of Artificial Eye.

**** 4/5


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