MOVIE REVIEW: “First Position”

BY DAYNA PAPALEO

“First Position”

(NR), directed by Bess Kargman

Opens Friday

When I see documentaries like “Spellbound” or “Wordplay,” I can’t help but wonder how the filmmakers decide which proverbial horses to bet on. In the case of “First Position,” perhaps director Bess Kargman went by personality; she follows six exceedingly likable young ballet dancers as they compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, which awards scholarships to prestigious schools or contracts with renowned companies. We meet, among others, 11-year-old Aran, who shows off both his foot stretcher and his BB gun, and we spend time with 14-year-old Michaela, an adoptee from Sierra Leone whose beauty-filled present stands in stark contrast to her horrifying beginnings. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the film, and it seems to gloss over downsides like racism and anorexia, but it’s impossible not to get caught up in the passion of young artists chasing their dreams.

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