*PLEASE NOTE: This event is now cancelled*
Our next film presentation at The Gallery at Munro House highlights the demands and excellence of the world of ballet. Bess Kargman’s impressive documentary First Position (2011) showcases six 8-19 year-olds as they prepare to perform at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix in New York City.
If you’ve ever seen Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) and presume to know all there is to know about about the powerful and graceful art form, then think again. Whereas that film concerns itself with the pitfalls and psychological strain of ballet, First Position celebrates the skill, passion and determination of its subjects.
The Youth America Grand Prix provides younger entrants to exhibit their skills and announce themselves as prospects for the future. The older dancers however stand a chance of being offered a scholarship to one of the elite ballet schools in the world, including The Royal Ballet School in London. Uncertainties and worries are addressed but positive mental attitude and hard work shine through as the young prospects display maturity and conviction beyond their years.
The competition draws dancers from across the globe. Here we meet Michaela from Sierra Leone, adopted into an American family who hopes to dispel the belief that black people don’t make good ballet dancers; Aran whose father is a naval officer and thus finds his family posted in Italy; Japanese-British Miko and her younger brother Jules have aspirations of dancing in the same company one day; and Joan Sebastian, 16, who moved to New York City alone to pursue his dream while his family still remains in Colombia.
Films of this nature often have an element of overbearing and controlling parents but what is refreshing about this feature is the lack of dominance from the children’s seniors. In this film parents are here to serve and assist, unconditionally, and there’s probably no better example of this than Aran’s father accepting an additional tour in Iraq rather than relocating his family, solely so his son won’t have to part from the comfort of his ballet school.
Over the last few years the Northern Ballet company has granted editorial and portrait photographer Justin Slee privileged access to observe and record the company’s work, up close and personal. Allowing him time to witness the commitment, people and process behind creating outstanding visual dance productions.
The resulting images form the exhibition titled ‘Avant’, which First Position will screen alongside. ‘Avant’ is a collection of photographs that illustrate the dedication, professionalism and endeavour of the world of modern ballet through contemporary documentary and portrait photography.
First Position screens at 7PM on Thursday 2 April at The Gallery at Munro House in Leeds city centre. Tickets are are only £5 and are available now from our online ticket office.
We look forward to seeing you there.