First Position Movie Review

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After several years without it, I decided to sign up for Netflix again a few days ago. The first full movie I watched was First Position, a ballet documentary that popped up on my recommendation list. When I noticed the date, I was a little surprised that I’d never heard of it before, as I love dance and watch lots of movies and documentaries about various forms of it, but I clicked play and quickly made up for lost time!

First Position is a well-made and interesting documentary that gives a good feel for the lives of the young dancers it portrays. As someone who studied ballet for many years myself, I didn’t learn as much as I did with something like, for example, Jig. As a result, my attention wandered during some parts because I already know stuff like how hideous ballerina’s feet are and how much many of them actually eat. However, my personal experience had advantages as well. With Jig, I could be impressed by the speed and rhythm of Joe Bitter’s set dance without fully understanding what I was seeing. With First Position, I knew exactly what I was seeing in performances such as 12 year old Miko Fogarty’s variation on Don Quixote, and why these kids were so amazing.

The documentary follows a good mix of kids and teenagers of various ages and backgrounds and makes you care about them and feel for the incredible sacrifices they and their families have made to pursue their dreams. To paraphrase Baryshnikov, most of them don’t just love to dance, they need to dance, and their innate passion and talent has driven them to incredible heights for their age. Miko Fogarty and Aran Bell in particular amazed me, since I was still studying ballet myself at ages 11 and 12 (I quit at 16) and could really compare what I was capable of doing at that age to what they were. (Needless to say, they were miles ahead.)

Because the movie was filmed back in 2010, several of the older dancers have since gone on to professional careers, including the Columbian Joan Sebastian Zamora (pictured on the cover), who currently dances with the English National Ballet, and the girl from Sierra Leone, Michaela dePrince, who is currently dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. First Position’s Facebook page also recently announced that Aran Bell, now 15, will be dancing with the American Ballet Theater’s studio company this season, and Miko Fogarty (now 16) also seems to be keeping busy with both studying and performing, if her Facebook page is any indication.

If you love ballet or want to learn more about it, you’ll love this documentary!

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My rating: (3.5 / 5)