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First Position (2012)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 70
Fresh: 65
Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: An upbeat and visually dramatic documentary of children's ballet, First Position displays the potential of the human spirit when fostered at a young age.

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 29
Fresh: 27
Rotten: 2

Critics Consensus: An upbeat and visually dramatic documentary of children's ballet, First Position displays the potential of the human spirit when fostered at a young age.


Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 11,005


Movie Info

Every year, thousands of aspiring dancers enter one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions, the Youth America Grand Prix, where lifelong dreams are at stake. In the final round, with hundreds competing for only a handful of elite scholarships and contracts, practice and discipline are paramount, and nothing short of perfection is expected. Bess Kargman's award-winning documentary, First Position, follows six young dancers as they prepare for a chance to enter the world of … More

Art House & International , Comedy , Documentary , Drama , Kids & Family , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Oct 30, 2012
Box Office:
Sundance Selects - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for First Position

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (5)

Undeniably effective as drama, as we ponder the varying degrees of ambition and talent driving these young people to push their bodies beyond the limit in the hope of grasping a future in the spotlight.

Full Review… | April 10, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 19, 2012
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | July 19, 2012
Toronto Star
Top Critic

When it's over, you won't remember so much about who won and who lost. Instead, what remains is the expression on a young dancer's face, reflected in a mirror: showing the joy of being in love with what you do.

Full Review… | May 24, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

For someone (like me) who has never been to a ballet, the talent of these teens and tweens is a revelation.

Full Review… | May 18, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 17, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 25, 2013

A superior example of the genre, it concentrates on six young dancers from around the world ...

Full Review… | April 14, 2013
Observer [UK]

Like the engaging hit documentary Spellbound, this dance competition film gets under the skin and holds us in its grip like a well-crafted thriller.

Full Review… | April 12, 2013

Anyone with an interest in dance should enjoy this documentary ...

Full Review… | April 12, 2013
This is London

Settles for heartwarming "follow your dreams" platitudes rather than following the cold realities of being a dancer.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013
Little White Lies

It's humane, involving and inspirational.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013
Daily Mail [UK]

A blandly feelgood documentary about aspiring young ballet dancers.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013

A griping documentary following several ballet hopefuls as they prepare for an international competition.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013
Financial Times

Impressively directed and superbly edited, this is an emotionally engaging documentary with likeable subjects, stunning dance sequences and a suspenseful climax.

Full Review… | April 11, 2013

If you thought Black Swan made ballet look grim, this festival-fave documentary offers an earthier but no less griping portrait of the profession's crippling realities.

Full Review… | April 9, 2013
Total Film

A touching look at ballet's battle-hardened youngsters.

Full Review… | April 8, 2013
Empire Magazine

If this film doesn't put a smile on your face, you are too hard to please.

Full Review… | April 7, 2013
ABC Radio Brisbane

Hopes are shared and dreams expressed during this uplifting journey in which we become involved in each of the dancers' lives. As a consequence, we have a stake in what happens and are often moved as a result of the drama and tension

Full Review… | April 6, 2013
Urban Cinefile

Debut director Bess Kargman establishes herself as a skilled documentarian, drawing out humour and tension from the contestants' experiences without manipulating their stories for melodramatic effect.

Full Review… | January 29, 2013
The List

First time director Bess Kargman has done a great job with this film in letting the personalities of these dancers and their families shine through.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
Laramie Movie Scope

It's enjoyable watching the motivated youngsters pirouetting their way to success.

Full Review… | November 27, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An arresting documentary about the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be able to spin around like a whirling dervish on the tip of your toes without getting sickeningly dizzy.

Full Review… | August 24, 2012

Audience Reviews for First Position

Even though it's predictable, First Position is an insightful film into the lives of aspiring ballet dancers. Upbeat, funny, involving, and precise, First Position is a window into the competitive world of the world class ballet. Getting to know all the dancers is a lot of fun and we go through their journey with them, we understand their pain, their trials and tribulations, and in the end, we can't help but clap and cheer for them. A great time at the theatre, or a great window about getting into the professional world of ballet dancing.

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer


Six kids (9-19) whose lives are completely devoted to dance compete in a New York City contest with the best dancers from across the globe, with scholarships and professional careers depending on one performance. Rah-rah inspirational stuff aimed at dance moms; it only shows its subjects from their most forgiving angles. It might have had more impact if it focused entirely on the most interesting contestant (an adopted war orphan from Sierra Leone).

Greg S

Super Reviewer

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