FIRST POSITION directed by Bess Kargman. A Mongrel Media release. 90 minutes. Opens Friday (July 20). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
This nail-biting doc follows a handful of aspiring ballet dancers competing in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix, which awards international attention and lucrative scholarships to some of the world-class winners.
Director Bess Kargman has found a good range of subjects, from Rebecca, a pampered Barbie lookalike, and Aran, whose parents have uprooted the family to support his dance, to dirt-poor Colombian immigrant Joan Sebastian and the adopted Michaela, whose parents were killed in Sierra Leone's civil war.
Along the way, the doc takes a frank look at costs, job opportunities, body issues, injuries and gender. There's lots of great dance, plus a bit of unexpected humour thanks to one adorable 10-year-old who balks at his stage mom.