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First Position follows six talented young dancers (ages 9-19) from five continents as they prepare for a worldwide ballet competition that could transform their lives overnight.Written by
This is a great film. Why does it have such a low rating?
First Position (2011), directed by Bess Kargman, is an excellent film about young ballet dancers. For reasons I can't understand, as I write this review, the movie carries an IMDb rating of a dismal 6.2. How can that be? Did the viewers who rated it "1" see the same film I saw?
The movie follows seven young ballet dancers as they prepare for, and then compete in, the prestigious Grand Prix competition. As pointed out in the movie, many physical activities in which people participate involve natural movements for which the human body is well suited.
Catching a baseball, swimming, or climbing a rope are not easy, but our species has the natural physical capabilities to do these things. Ballet dancing, especially en pointe ballet dancing, is not a natural activity for us. We simply are not constructed to (literally) walk on the tips of our toes. The feet have to be trained and remodeled to allow this activity to take place. And, of course, not only do ballet dancers dance on their toes, but when they are doing this they are supposed to make their movements elegant, graceful, and apparently effortless.
Although male ballet dancers don't dance en pointe, their movements are also extraordinarily difficult. One young male dancer shows us his "foot stretcher," and tells us, "It hurts a lot."
So, serious ballet dancing requires physical traits that are extraordinary, dedication so that ballet becomes central to your life, and the capability to absorb physical pain that would be "cruel and unusual punishment" if it weren't voluntary.
Director Kargman has put together a documentary that takes us inside the lives of these young dancers. We meet their coaches, their families, and their judges. Also, of course, we go to the Grand Prix with the dancers, and we learn whether they succeed or fail.
I thought the movie was honest, creative, and balanced. These young people are not "regular kids who happen to take ballet." They are dedicated, passionate, and fanatically determined to succeed. First Position brings us into the world of ballet training, and allows us to make our own decisions about the wisdom of encouraging your child to dance and compete at this level. It's a great film. Why does it have such a low rating?
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