First Position: A Look into the World of Ballet


    To the untrained, non-dancer’s eye, dance may look easy, even inimitable.

    To the untrained, non-dancer’s eye, dance may look easy, even inimitable. But after just one minute of the movie, First Position,  you will see how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into the art of dance. First Position is a documentary following seven dancers and their journey through personal sacrifice and injury to the Youth America Grand Pix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. The movie takes you into the center of ballet where you get to see what goes on behind the scenes of these intense ballet dancers.
    I really enjoyed the movie, First Position, and would recommend it; especially to other dancers. Only dancers know how hard it really is to do a perfect Grand Jeté with a 180 degree split, straight legs, and pointed feet. I think dancers can best appreciate this movie because they know first hand how much skill and effort goes into every move. It’s a dancers’ job to make the move they are doing look impressive and difficult for any other person to do, but on them to look like it’s effortless for them to perform. Some people say that dancers are supposed to look effortless, but if dancers looked effortless, everyone would think that they could be just as good as the best dancers. The dancers in this movie do a great job of making their dancing look impressive, but at the same time like it’s easy for them to do. Because of this, non-dancers watching this movie can still admire the dancers on screen, even if they haven’t experienced the difficulties of ballet. Dancer Alyssa, age nine, said that she liked the movie because, “… watching helped me improve my dancing.”
    Throughout the movie, you hear each of the seven dancer’s inspiring stories and are taken into their life of countless hours of rehearsing and countless obstacles they must overcome before the esteemed ballet competition. Knowing the backgrounds of these dancers not only made you appreciate their dedication, but also made you emotionally invested in each and every ballet dancer.
    Each dancer comes from various backgrounds and financial situations.  First Position transitions between cultures from a self-proclaimed, pink-loving princess named Rebecca Houseknecht, age seventeen, to a sixteen year-old Columbian boy, Joan Zamora,  living on his own, trying to become a famous ballet dancer in New York. Then moves on to another dancer, Michaela DePrince, age fourteen, an orphan from war torn Sierra Leone.
    My favorite character was Jules Fogarty, a ten year-old Japanese- British ballet dancer following in the footsteps of his older, eleven year-old sister, Miko. First Position was serious at times; it is centered around a life changing competition after all, but was broken up by parts, usually of Jules, that had the whole audience laughing. Mrs. Fogarty was a fanatic for her kids’ ballet careers, even though Jules obviously wasn’t destined to be a ballerina. It was really funny to see Jules so lighthearted and not worried about ballet while everyone else around him was so serious and worried about the competition. While I liked watching Jules, Michael Schneider, a retired dancer of twenty three years, liked watching the eleven year old boy Aran Bell dance. He said, “I loved watching Aran dance. He had a dancer’s air and was so composed.”
    This movie is not rated, and I think that audiences of all ages would enjoy it. There’s no inappropriate content, but some of the dancer’s background stories may
generate tears. I know I almost cried when I heard about Michaela’s childhood in Africa and her early years in the center of war.
    The movie, First Position, not only took you to first position, but also to second, fourth and fifth positions. It took you beyond the average ballet competition and into the lives of the contestants themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed First Position, but I may be partial to the movie because I am a dancer. I think not only dancers, but also non-dancers would enjoy this movie. For more information, behind the scenes pictures, and movie trailers, go to