Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Summary: 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 professional ballet, struggling through bloodied feet, near exhaustion and debilitating injuries, all while navigating the drama of adolescence. A showcase of awe-inspiring talent, tenacity and passion, FIRST POSITION paints a thrilling and moving portrait of the most gifted young ballet stars of tomorrow. (Sundance Selects) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 4, 2012
    I've become weary of documentaries about winning prizes, but this one is special because the kids are.
  2. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    May 2, 2012
    Fortunately, first-time filmmaker Bess Kargman has selected a diverse array of competitors from different backgrounds who have significant talent in common.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    May 3, 2012
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: John Semley
    May 4, 2012
    The documentary twists out its six narrative threads with measured compassion and even-handedness.
  5. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 10, 2012
    Because its subjects are so driven and so talented, First Position, which is about ballet, is more gripping than the norm.
  6. Reviewed by: Frank Scheck
    May 5, 2012
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    May 1, 2012
    The result is a film that eschews in-depth insight in favor of easily digestible who's-going-to-win suspense, a tack that's aided by Kargman's rather poignant (and visually graceful) evocation of pre-performance anxiety but ultimately leaves the material feeling deflated once the winners emerge.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Jun 2, 2012
    A lovely, touching movie, albeit a bit heavy on the heart-tugging. I loved the dancing, the cinematography, and the personal stories (and the personalities of the dancers and their families); but most of all I loved the fact that there was no Nigel, Mary, Little C, Trice, or Mia to ruin it. Expand
  2. Jun 1, 2012
    Liked the movie a lot. Showed you the passion and hardwork put in by the youngsters in pursuing their dream of dancing ballet professionally. Would recommend this film to young people and their familes who are seriously considering a career in the arts. Collapse
  3. Aug 18, 2013
    This is a very well done documentary about young aspiring ballet artists competing in a world class competition. It's fascinating and at least somewhat dramatic, and watching all this kids dance for their passion is really a treat. Expand
  4. Jan 26, 2013
    It seemed like a long promotional pitch for: "American Idol for Ballet Dancers". I was ready to be a fan of this documentary and a good story, but the potentially good stories were mashed together. I was disappointed they didn't use the ebb and flow of ballet to tell the story. Great kids, good music, hard work, sacrifice is clear. But, I wasn't invested in the characters...In summary, with so many other great movies to watch, this one is on the end of your list unless you love ballet. Expand