Parents' Guide to

First Position

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Inspiring documentary about hardworking young dancers.

Movie NR 2012 94 minutes
First Position Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 10+


I think this documentary gives a good indication of the hard work and sacrifice that goes into trying to become a professional ballet dancer. The pressure was tremendous for some, one dancer had the weight of her familie's finances on making sure she secured a contract. It was a little long for my 9yo.
age 8+

great documentary

Good for anyone whose interested in ballet and a look at training at a pre-professional level. Realistic depiction of family dynamics and student/family sacrifices and passion.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This movie makes us want to dance and it makes us think, and that's a good thing. A good documentary transports you someplace you might not be familiar with but are grateful to visit; a great documentary makes you care so much about its subjects that you can't fathom how you never knew about them before. First Position is always good and often great -- a portrait of dancers so driven that their youth or background matters not a whit. Filmmaker Bess Kargman approaches her subjects with empathy and a palpable respect for their work ethic. But she doesn't shy away from asking questions, either, whether by letting vexing moments like a young woman's late-breaking injury linger or by juxtaposing a little boy who's having fun dancing (but clearly isn't motivated to perfect the moves) and his doting mother, who, also clearly, won't see that he isn't likely to end up wanting to truly pursue ballet.

And, oh the dancing! Whether you're a ballet fan or not, it's impossible not to be impressed by the grace and athleticism of it all. Ballet here isn't genteel; it's tough on both mind and body and will push you to your limits. It's also astoundingly beautiful to watch. One minor gripe is how Kargman elects to view some dancing scenes at a remove or from the wings, dulling a dancer's effect a little. (Though only a little.) And the ending feels abrupt, given the careful wind-up and the time spent with all the characters (thankfully, though, we do find out how each of these interesting young dancers fared). But ultimately First Position will leave you questioning your own ability to commit fully to a passion.

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