I watched the documentary “First Position” on Netflix a few days ago. This is an excellent documentary following a group of young ballet dancers as they get ready to compete in the Grand Prix competition in New York City. The dancers competing are as young as 9. The stress that they put their bodies through is crazy – injuries and fractures are frequent. But during the last day of the finals, judges representing thirty elite ballet institutions will award scholarships, contracts (for a spot in a ballet company) and medals to the most promising dancers.
The dancers shown in this documentary are extremely disciplined and devoted to becoming career ballet dancers. Some of the students dance for hours every single day and one of the parents remarked “my kid works harder than I do”. If it isn’t physical stress, there is also emotional stress that these kids go through.
One of the young students in the documentary traveled from South America leaving all of his family behind to receive training in New York. He missed his family and sometimes felt as if he should just return back home - but he loved ballet which is why he stuck it out. During one emotional phone call, his dad told him that he needed to work hard and succeed in the competition because his future depended on it as“there was nothing for him to do back in Columbia”.
I took a ballet class at Moorpark College during the summer many years ago. It was a mixture of beginning and intermediate students and I first-hand observed the bruised feet of the more advanced students in my class who were on pointe. Ballet is emotionally and physically taxing. If you think you are currently working at 100% this documentary could potentially put you to shame.