Tonight Sean went to see the new James Bond movie with a friend, so I watched a really gorgeous film that I know he wouldn’t appreciate it with my cat:
First Position is a documentary about teenagers and kids (kids!) competing in the world’s largest youth ballet competition, the Youth America Grand Prix. They compete for awards, but more importantly, for full-scholarships to prestigious international dance schools and even for contracts to work for dance companies. They each get five minutes to prove themselves as the world’s best in their age group. Talk about one intense way to land a job offer!
If it sounds a little too “America’s Got Talent,” for you, don’t worry. These kids are AMAZING. I’ve thought ballet dancers are exquisitely beautiful since I was a preschooler in my first dance classes, admiring the older girls at studio-wide recitals. And while my dance classes ended ages ago, I had the privilege of befriending some truly talented musicians in high school band. These are kids who would practice their instruments for hours every single day, placing it even above schoolwork. One girl at my school transferred after her sophomore year to Interlochen School for the Arts to study oboe performance. A number got full music scholarships, one of whom later attended the Manhattan School of Music for one year to get his master’s and then left. Because he got offered a position in the extremely selective U.S. Air Force Band. Yeah. Like I said, talented. Insanely talented, and even more dedicated and passionate about their art.
Anyway, this documentary reminded me a lot of my band nerd friends in that way. First Position was also very moving. There were some interesting bits about a 16-year-old from Colombia who moved to NYC to study ballet (with the hope of eventually being able to financially support his family back home), and who dreamed of studying at the Royal Ballet Academy in London and being a professional dancer. There was a 14-year-old girl from Sierra Leone whose parents were killed when she was very young; she was adopted by an incredibly supportive American family, and this girl was giving her all to prove that black girls can perform classical ballet. And there were a number more. And they all had amazing stories.
You should watch it, even if ballet isn’t your thing.
But it should be. Because…because:
Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer. Watch the documentary.