(director/writer: Bess Kargman; cinematographer: Nick
Higgins; editors: Bess Kargman/Kate
Amend; music: Chris Hajian; 94;
MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bess Kargman; Sundance
Selects/IFC Films; 2011-USA-in English,
Spanish, French and Hebrew, with English subtitles
"It's enjoyable watching the motivated youngsters pirouetting their way to success."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
winsome, upbeat and moving documentary, another human
interest Spellbound-like winner, by first-time
director Bess Kargman. It smartly follows six
talented and likeable young dancers as they prepare
pic spends valuable time telling the interesting
back-stories of the six contestants, and how they
dedicate their lives to ballet and must give up a
so-called normal childhood to realize their
aspirations. The articulate children, their
instructors and parents are interviewed and let on
about the mental and physical challenges they
experience and how costly it is to pursue their dream.
Bell, 11, the fair-haired son of a navy doctor
stationed in Naples, who loves ballet so much he
travels two hours every day from his father's military
base to Rome in order to train with Denys Ganio,
former principal dancer of the Ballet Marseilles.
Israeli pixie Gaya Bommer Yemini, 11, is talented both in ballet and modern dance. She's the daughter of noted Israeli choreographer Nadine Bommer.
DePrince, 14, was adopted as a toddler from the
orphanage of the war-torn African country of Sierra
Leone by a supportive older Jewish couple in
Philadelphia. Her birth parents were murdered by rebel
soldiers. Michaela yearns to have a career in
ballet and prove that black ballerinas can be
as delicate and graceful as whites.
Sebastian Zamora, 16, from Cali, Colombia, trains
under a former American Ballet Theater
dancer in New York while his family remains in
Cali. The serious-minded youngster is grateful
about the sacrifices his parents make on his behalf
and hopes to live up to their high expectations of
beauty Rebecca Houseknecht, 17, from suburban
Maryland, aspires to join a professional company
rather than attend college, and seems to have the
talent and looks to be a success.
Miko Fogarty, 12, from Palo Alto, Calif., aspires with
all her heart to be a professional. Her pushy mother
tries to force ballet on her younger brother, Jules,
even though he lacks his sister's ability or interest
Kargman, a ballet dancer as a youth and a graduate from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2008, has the passion and knowledge of her subject and the film-making skill to make this a worthwhile film. What was left out was any critique of ballet competitions, that some argue is a detriment to the artistic integrity of ballet. A different opinion should of at least found some voice in the pic to make it more balanced, honest and believable.
REVIEWED ON 11/25/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ