Parents' Guide to

Dancing on Glass

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Dancers face intense pressure; language, suicide, nudity.

Movie NR 2022 137 minutes
Dancing on Glass

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Dancing on Glass doesn't go for straight horror the way that other grim cinematic look at ballet, Black Swan, did, but as depicted here it's an icy, gloomy world. That dancers propel themselves on bloody feet and strained muscles, exhausted and bulimic, is almost an afterthought. Physical pain is the least of it. Norma admits she manipulates her dancers, pressing them to self-isolate and playing into their body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Fierce and even demented self-obsession is what Norma imposes on her dancers, pretending it's all in the name of great art. Norma orders the seamstress to make Irene's costume smaller, putting more pressure on the already bulimic dancer to be thinner. In a dress rehearsal, Irene nearly faints, probably because she can't expand her chest sufficiently to breathe as she exerts herself. Going home for these dancers is as bad as being at work, with a comically unsupportive father who disdains dance, and a creepily hovering mother who misses the days of her own ballet career and relives it through her daughter.

Despite convincing performances, it all makes for a depressing slog through the lives of girls who feel misunderstood, overworked, and terrified that they're expendable and replaceable. Even among the top dancers with the showcase roles, that insecurity is emphasized daily by Norma as she demands nothing less than perfection. In addition to presenting such a dismal world, the movie is slow and plodding, and almost entirely devoid of the joy that great art can create.

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