Movie Review: First Position

By Barney McDonald

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Rehearsing at the Youth America Grand Prix, in Bess Kargman's 'First Position'. Photo / Supplied
Rehearsing at the Youth America Grand Prix, in Bess Kargman's 'First Position'. Photo / Supplied

Following the excellent French documentary La Danse and New Zealand's reality series about our national ballet company, Bess Kargman's expose of the Youth America Grand Prix dance competition is riveting.

Tracking six dancers as they prepare and compete for a place in an elite ballet school or company, it explores the extreme hardships they endure. They forego normal childhood pursuits for intensive workouts and coaching, hoping desperately to make the cut. The drama builds as we wait to see who will.

Kargman takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, letting stories unfold as dancers near the big day. Each has specific issues, with Joan Sebastian Zamora emerging as inspirational. Coming from a poor family in Colombia, he has the greatest journey to take and the most to lose. His talent and humility blaze like a beacon to all those striving for perfection or the fulfilment of a dream. Unlike La Danse, less time is devoted to dancing itself, with Kargman more interested in personalities. But when these kids do let loose it's something special to behold.

Stars: 4/5
Cast: Aran Bell, Michaela DePrince, Joan Sebastian Zamora, Rebecca Houseknecht, Gaya Bommer Yemini, Miko, Jules Fogarty
Director: Bess Kargman
Rating: G
Running time: 90 mins

First Position is out now.

- Herald on Sunday

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