It’s not easy being a ballet dancer. Just ask the gifted young dancers that take center stage in director Bess Kargman’s uplifting debut documentary First Position. The film, now playing in select cities, gives audiences a behind-the-scenes peek at this grueling and highly competitive sport.
The movie introduces moviegoers to seven passionate ballet students who hail from across the globe. There’s Aran Bell, 11, a confident young boy from a U.S. military family; Gaya Bommer Yemini, 11, a graceful Israeli ballerina with whom Aran strikes up a friendship; Miko Fogarty, 12, whose steadfast discipline to the sport leads her to be homeschooled by her mom; Miko’s 10-year-old brother Jules Jarvis Fogarty, who ultimately decides to retire his ballet shoes; Michaela DePrince, 14, an inspiring adoptee from the war-torn African country of Sierra Leone; Joan Sebastian Zamora, a soft-spoken 16-year-old whose family cheers him on from their home in Colombia; and Rebecca Houseknecht, 17, a talented high-school senior who hopes to make a career out of ballet.
While they come from very different backgrounds, their devotion to dance connects them all. They share a common goal: making it to the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition in New York City. As we soon learn, the stakes are high. They’re not just competing for glory. They’re fighting for their futures as well. For some, the Grand Prix offers a chance to win scholarships to the world’s top ballet schools. For others, the competition could lead to full-time jobs at professional dance companies.
Despite intense daily practices, painful injuries and the pressures that come with competition, the young students dance on. They’re determined to dedicate their lives to the art they love so much. And you can’t help but root for them to succeed.
Did You Know?
Director Bess Kargman danced ballet throughout her childhood, studying at the Boston Ballet School. While the film focuses on training for the Grand Prix, Kargman herself never competed in any ballet competitions growing up. She went on to play ice hockey in college and pursue a career in journalism. The film, Kargman's first, won several awards after successful showings at independent film festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
To find out where First Position is playing, visit balletdocumentary.com.