As a film minor in college, I acquired a great love for film. For a fleeting moment, I even considered pursuing a graduate degree in film studies. I always thought it would be such fun to direct movies! I will never forget one of my college film professors, Dr. Maria Pramaggiore, mentioned that it is a common occurrence that dancers and filmmakers are often interested in the opposing field. Capturing dance and movement on film inspires filmmakers, and the challenge of adequately capturing the art of dance on film inspires choreographers and dancers. So, when a film is released that features dance, I am always excited and curious to check it out.

Though First Position was released last year, it was last week when I was finally able to watch it. The documentary features six dancers (3 boys and 3 girls, ranging from ages 10-17) on their journey through the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competitive process. The film captures the students’ varying backgrounds and training regimes, their journey through the semi-final competitions, and their experience at the YAGP Finals in New York City.

The film makes you feel personally connected and invested in each of the individual dancers, Jules, Aran, Gaya, Miko, Michaela, Joan Sebastian, and Rebecca, as each has his/her own unique story, passion, and motivation. Their drive, desire, and levels of technical excellence are astonishing, as is their maturity in the classroom and competitive environment.

Outside of the classroom and competition, you see that these are children with hearts, compassion, and love. They enjoy the same things as their non-dancing peers, but their exceptional love for dance drives their passion and hope for success.

I highly recommend First Position for dance educators, dance enthusiasts, and dance students.  The film is currently streaming on Netflix and is available for purchase or rental on Amazon.com.

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Have you watched First Position? Please share your thoughts!

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