First Position Reviews

  • Each of [the] six young subjects vying for the Youth America Grand Prix (and the priceless award of a full scholarship to a top ballet school) is a wonder of self-imposed discipline in service to art.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum — Entertainment Weekly

  • An appealing, largely upbeat documentary about young ballet dancers duking it out, sometimes on point and in tulle, for top honors at the Youth America Grand Prix.

    Manohla Dargis — New York Times

  • It's an intense journey, and Kargman captures it all, down to the dancers' bloodied and bruised feet.

    Amy Hitt — Washington Post

  • Because its subjects are so driven and so talented, "First Position," which is about ballet, is more gripping than the norm.

    Ty Burr — Boston Globe

  • The result is a film that eschews in-depth insight in favor of easily digestible who's-going-to-win suspense...

    Nick Schager — Village Voice

  • Their devotion to their art is admirable, and the film gets under the skin, if never really in our blood.

    Joe Neumaier — New York Daily News

  • Beneath the jetes and bleeding feet, First Position is about toughness of mind as much as visions of beauty. In one case it's about a transformation so profound as to be unfathomable.

    Joe Morgenstern — Wall Street Journal

  • The film shows the grueling work it takes for young dancers like Zamora to look effortless on stage, and First Position shows teachers who range from supportive to borderline abusive.

    Ellen Dunkel — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • It's in the quick audience-reaction shots of the young dancers' exultant parents and cringing private instructors that the movie finds its most nakedly human moments.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • A number of the performances are plain stunning - Aran and Joan, in particular, seem born to move - and in many ways watching the movie is like watching a sporting event; there are winners and losers and favorites to cheer on.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

  • It's a triumph, in more ways than one.

    Rex Reed — New York Observer

  • Never putting a foot wrong, tyro helmer Bess Kargman's touching, enormously satisfying docu First Position follows six gifted ballet students from disparate social, regional, economic and ethnic backgrounds as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix

    Alissa Simon — Variety

  • [It] seems fresh in the way it respects both the art in ballet and the discipline it demands - even in childhood.

    Farran Smith Nehme — New York Post

  • If you have a yearning to feel awkward, inadequate and lazy, watching the whirling teenage (and preteen) talents in director Bess Kargman's First Position will do the trick.

    Linda Barnard — Toronto Star

  • It does a great job developing its characters through its visuals - these are superphysical kids - and honing in on family dynamics.

    Jennie Punter — Globe and Mail

  • First Position is an unabashedly inspirational portrait of what even very young people can accomplish with discipline and dedication.

    Dana Stevens — Slate

  • First Position overcomes its predictable elements thanks to the inherent visual drama of watching children strain their bodies to the limit in obsessive pursuit of their goals.

    Frank Scheck — Hollywood Reporter

  • At least half of these young dynamos and their families, all vying for coveted scholarships and spots in ballet companies, could brighten the most forlorn perspective on the state of the American dream.

    Mary F. Pols — TIME Magazine

  • These performers are so young, so serious, so full of dreams and so hard on themselves that it is difficult not to be moved by their striving.

    Kenneth Turan — Los Angeles Times

  • The joy of watching lies in the purity of the dancer's passion.

    Rebecca Barry — Flicks.co.nz

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