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First Position - Ballet is their Life

First Position - Ballet is their Life

USA 2012

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:First Position
Direction:Bess Kargman
Cinema release:04.07.2013
Production country:USA 2012
Running time:Approx. 98 min.
Rated:From 0 years

When ballet dancers float across the stage with an incomparable elegance and a graceful lightness, it is easy for spectators to forget the effort involved in this art form. Because what looks like lightness is in reality a hard struggle that often demands more than just blood, sweat and tears. A struggle that is often begun in early childhood. For those who are not totally disciplined and dedicated, ballet will never be more than a small hobby. But for those for whom dancing is life, the Youth America Grand Prix (YAPG) gives them the opportunity to earn a scholarship or a coveted contract with the best ballet schools and companies in the world. It's just 300 seconds that can change a life forever.

Filmmaker Bess Kargman followed six young talents as they prepared for this competition for her documentary First Position - Ballet is Their Life. There are the siblings Miko and Jules, who are always pushed by their mother to give their best performance, which causes Jules in particular to lose more and more of the fun in ballet. Or the 11-year-old Aran Bell, who wins the hearts of the competition audience in no time with his talent and charm. The young Colombian Joan Sebastian Zamora also hopes that his participation in the YAPG in New York will enable him to fulfil his big dream of a career as a dancer. Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone, wants to prove to the jury that girls of color can also master this art form perfectly. And Rebecca Houseknecht, who seems to fulfill every cliché of a pure dance Barbie, wants to dance against these very clichés with a lot of discipline and a polished technique.

All these children and young people are united by their passion for ballet dance, a passion they have developed for very different reasons. In very charming and frank interviews and wonderful snapshots from rehearsals or from the everyday life of the protagonists, it is revealed to the viewer what dancing means to each and every one of these great talents and why they sometimes take great pain to meet their own standards and those of their coaches. At times this is very amusing, such as when Rebecca claims to be a normal, simple girl while sitting behind the pink plush covered steering wheel of her car. At other times, however, the film manages to be very moving, which is especially the case when Michaela talks about her traumatic memories of the war in her homeland.

First and foremost, however, the film is an extremely entertaining testament to some very great talent that you can be fascinated by even if you're not particularly into ballet yourself. First Position - Ballett ist ihr Leben is a wonderful documentary, at the end of which not only a happy smile is conjured up on the faces of the audience, but also a great sense of gratitude that one's own feet don't look like the battered ones of the young dancers. Therefore: absolutely worth seeing!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
  • First Position - Ballet is their Life
Cinema trailer for the movie "First Position - Ballet is their Life (USA 2012)"
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