Young aspiring prima ballerinas are highlighted in "Ballerina," a 2006 documentary about students, some from the Vaganova Ballet Academy, their graduation and work in ballet companies. Five young women are shown: Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina, Alina Somova, and Evgenia Obraztsova. Lopatkina was actually an established prima ballerina at the time of the documentary, but had left to have a child and was just getting back into ballet. She is still dancing today, and the young women profiled have all gone on to have wonderful careers.
They have to start young, at around 10 years of age, and study for seven years. Showing part of the auditions, the girls appear in just panties. Then each one stands in front of the judges while someone manipulates their body so the judges can see the stretch, their proportions, the turnout, and if there are any problems. One young woman whom I knew personally had a scholarship to ballet school and lost it because she had a problem with her knee that affected her turnout. Because of that, she could not be a prima ballerina, and the scholarships had to go to girls with that potential. So while it might look strange, it is part of the process.
After seven years, they have a public graduation concert and hopefully receive an offer from a ballet company, where they are in the chorus, then hopefully move up the ranks until they are dancing leads.
I found the commitment of these young women and the beauty of their dancing remarkable. Someone on the board criticized this film because they liked a film showing the history of ballet better. This isn't the history of ballet, it shows young women just starting out and shows some beautiful dancing of theirs and also the dancing of the magnificent Svetlana Zakharova. The dance was what was lacking in First Position, which deals with an actual ballet contest.
Another negative comment was that there was nothing in the documentary for those who aren't interested in ballet. If you're not interested in ballet, why would you watch "Ballerina"? I don't know.
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