The MiNAPRESS Column

DANCE IN CINEMA. MiNA Recommends: “First Position” (Part I)

Posted in ballet, dance, film, journalism, performing arts, reviews by MiNA on May 9, 2015
Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Among the most notable independent dance films of recent years – was a film so well-received during its premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, the award-winning documentary continued its surge across the globe well into 2013.

Director/former dancer Bess Kargman calls her debut feature film “First Position” a work she – “always wished had existed.” Shot in North and South America, Europe, and Asia – the 95 minute feature provides an inside look at youth dance competition – touching on some of the ballet world’s most sensitive topics including: peer pressure, injuries, eating-habits, and stereotypes.

Six contestants are documented – three male and three female, as they prepare for the world’s largest ballet scholarship competition – the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) from 2010. Immensely competitive, the annual competition enables supremely talented youth age 9 – 19 an accessible means to entering the profession. Few advance to the end to reap the extraordinary benefits, which in some cases include contracts with professional dance companies.

Aran Bell pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Aran Bell pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

First introduced is 11 year-old Aran Bell from the US, living in Naples, Italy with his parents – where his father is stationed in the military. Dancing since the age of 4, Bell explains his adoration for ballet, then casually demonstrates the proper use of a foot stretcher; a torturous looking device which Bell innocently admits “hurts a lot.”

Voicing a common concern of parents, Bell’s mother confides: “Kids who are pursuing ballet as a career give up a lot of their childhood” – a position where mother and son differ, but has not interfered with the youth’s long-term goals; this is evident through Bell’s parents’ willingness to commute two hours from Naples to Rome, to ensure their son receives the best training available.

Aran Bell with mentor Denys Ganio. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Aran Bell with mentor Denys Ganio. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

In Rome, we are introduced to Bell’s ballet teacher Denys Ganio. Bell describes Ganio as “Strict, but not mean strict, he’s nice strict – and funny;” a deeply moving scene as we observe the mutual fondness and respect shared between mentor and protégé.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

In the compelling story of 14 year old Michaela de Prince of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we learn that the normal life she currently leads, might never have been, had she not been rescued by her adopted parents. Orphaned as a child amidst South Africa’s civil unrest, de Prince’s birth parents were horrifically shot down by rebels during her early youth.

In studying ballet at the Philadelphia Rock School, the art form has served as an invaluable means of expression for de Prince. Under Stephanie and Bo Spassoff’s tutelage, de Prince has found strength and determination through her art. Making certain she always remembers her roots, de Prince vows to play a key role in helping to abolish racial discrimination in the ballet world.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

With the competition fast approaching, all seemed in order until de Prince’s mom discovered a problem with her daughter’s costume. Concerned that the light nude colored bodice beneath her daughter’s corset might be too glaring against Michaela’s dark skin, she feared judges might get distracted. “They only come in flesh color – for white people,” said Mrs. de Prince. Instead of leaving matters to chance, Mrs. de Prince remedied the situation by removing the bodice from the corset, dying it a darker color, then reattaching it.

While Mrs. de Prince dealt with the issue with her daughter’s bodice as best she could, the subject she brings up about nude colored dance undergarments not being made for dancers with dark skin merits further discussion. For this reason, our focus will now shift to the topic at hand; while the review will resume in Part II.

In response to the question as to whether dance undergarments are made for dancers of all skin colors – the surprising answer in these modern times is – yes and no. Research shows that a few product lines offer some dark skin color undergarment options, however variety is still limited. One must still scour the internet to locate these costly hard to find products.

Considering we’re talking about product demand from such a sizeable demographic, where the potential for capital gain is substantial, why such a basic product isn’t already available through most major dance apparel manufacturers is a good relevant question for today.

Ultimately someone will catch-on and make a fortune. It’s just a matter of whom and when. If that investor happens to be you on account of this column, you’re welcome; just don’t forget where you got the idea. I’ll be awaiting your reply.

Stay tuned… Part II of this review will feature dancers: Rebecca Houseknecht, Joan Sebastian Zamora, Miko Fogarty, and Jules Fogarty.

Until next time – Live. Dance. And Prosper.

Advertisements
ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

THE MIND OF RD REVILO

Conscious Thought: Driven by Intelligent Awareness

American Princess

A love story based on real life events!

Sonoma County Literary Update

Literary Newsletter and Calendar for Sonoma County

ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

Globe Drifting

Global issues, travel, photography & fashion. Drifting across the globe; the world is my oyster, my oyster through a lens.

The Growing Stone of Hope! Each Click makes a difference!

You click on the video & we add a stone!

A R T L▼R K

An Alternative Cultural Daybook

Attenti al Lupo

www.attentiallupo2012.com

Odette's Ordeal

A Site for Sore Swans & Serious Ballet Fans in San Francisco - Featuring Teri McCollum as "Odette"

AMZ Creative

AMZ Creative LLC, enhancing the human experience.

The offbeat Chronicles of a TuTu with Tea

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”- Chaim Potok

Sky Life Media

Sky Life Media, Artists Supporting Artists

San Diego Craftsman Home Tinkerers

Just another WordPress.com site

AXIS Dance Company

Redefining Dance!

%d bloggers like this: