IMDb > First Position (2011)
First Position
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First Position (2011) More at IMDbPro »

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First Position -- This family-friendly doc follows exceptionally talented young dancers from around the world as they vie for jobs and scholarships at a prestigious competition in New York.
First Position -- A documentary that follows six young dancers as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix.
First Position -- A documentary that follows six young dancers as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix.


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Up 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
10 August 2012 (Taiwan) See more »
6 dancers, 5 minutes on stage, 1 chance to make it.
A documentary that follows six young dancers from around the world as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
6 wins & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
"Sometimes it's painful." See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order)

Aran Bell ... Himself

Rebecca Houseknecht ... Herself

Joan Sebastian Zamora ... Himself
Miko Fogarty ... Herself
Jules Jarvis Fogarty ... Himself
Michaela Deprince ... Herself (as Michaela DePrince)
Gaya Bommer Yemini ... Herself
Michelle Bell ... Herself
Ryan Bell ... Himself
Elaine DePrince ... Herself
Charles DePrince ... Himself
Wendy Houseknecht ... Herself
David Houseknecht ... Himself
Satoko Fogarty ... Herself
Mat Fogarty ... Himself
Nadine Bommer ... Herself
Ziv Yemini ... Himself
Claudia Hurtado ... Herself
Guido Arturo Prieto ... Himself
Denys Ganio ... Himself
Bo Spassoff ... Himself
Stephanie Spassoff ... Herself
Viktor Kabaniaev ... Himself
Michelle Lees ... Herself
Larissa Saveliev ... Herself
Mia DePrince ... Herself
Derek Dunn ... Himself
Brian Dunn ... Himslf
Vicki Dunn ... Herself
Danielle Dunn ... Herself
Melanie Shee ... Herself
Chiu Shee ... Himself
Aleandra Bell ... Herself
Travis Halsey ... Himself
Dmitri Kulev ... Himself
Emily Entingh ... Herself
Hannah O'Neil ... Herself
Juliet Doherty ... Herself
Zhao Wan Ting ... Himself
Claudia Dean ... Herself
Miki Akuta ... Herself
Kazuko Sugihara ... Herself
Edo Wijen ... Himself
Sam Zalvidar ... Himself
Gabe Shayer ... Himself
Shelley King ... Herself
Alys Shee ... Herself
Evelyn Hart ... Herself
Victoria-Rose Viren ... Herself
John Viren ... Himself
Jenna Graves ... Herself
Svetlana Dvorkin ... Herself
Olga Kresin ... Herself
Mariaelena Ruiz ... Herself
Jeanetts Kakareka ... Herself
Brooks Miller ... Herself
Nathaniel King ... Himself
Nadal Safi ... Himself
Anastasia Torba ... Herself
Jacqueline Callahan ... Herself
Ka'imi Cambern ... Himself
Ashley Baszto ... Herself
Beckanne Sisk ... Herself
Esteban Hernandez ... Himself
Alejandro Prieto ... Himself
Flavio Salazar ... Himself
Jonathan Mendez ... Himself
Gailene Stock ... Herself
Franco de Vita ... Himself
Deborah Hess ... Herself
Elisabeth Platel ... Herself
Tadeusz Matacz ... Himself
Raymond Lukens ... Himself
Mikhail Tchoupakov ... Himself
Shelly Power ... Herself
Luca Masala ... Himself
Adam Skulte ... Himslf

Susan Jaffe ... Herself
Anna-Marie Holmes ... Herself
John Robert Gosnell ... Himself
Ron Nilson ... Himself
Kee-Juan Han ... Himself
Juan Miguel Fernandez Vera ... Himself
Arata Miyagawa ... Himself
Sergey Gordeev ... Himself
Rosaline Kassel ... Herself
Maddalena Di Giacomo ... Herself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Giuseppe Bausilio ... Himself

Directed by
Bess Kargman 
Produced by
Rose Caiola .... executive producer
Nick Higgins .... associate producer
Bess Kargman .... producer
Jennilyn Merten .... associate producer
Original Music by
Chris Hajian 
Cinematography by
Nick Higgins (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Kate Amend 
Bess Kargman 
Production Management
Hashem Selph .... production manager
Art Department
Tim D'Amico .... graphic artist
Nol Honig .... graphic artist
Hashem Selph .... graphic artist
Sound Department
Anthony D'Erasmo .... sound mixer
Abe Dolinger .... additional sound mixer
Tom Efinger .... additional sound recording staff (as Tom Effinger)
Eric Gitelson .... re-recording mixer
Lauri Kelleher .... additional sound mixer
Alicia Loving .... additional sound recording staff
Brian Miklas .... additional sound mixer
Desiree Ortiz .... additional sound mixer
David J. Schwartz .... additional sound mixer
Jeff Seelye .... additional sound recording staff
Steve Smith .... dolby engineer
Eric Thomas .... sound mixer
Michael Bogden .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Clement Alline .... additional camera (as Celement Alline)
Scott Beardslee .... additional camera assistant
Miochelle Bell .... additional camera
Colin Solal Cardo .... additional camera
Gary Clarke .... additional camera operator: Seattle
Christian Datum .... additional camera
Tobias Datum .... additional camera (as Tobi Datum)
Bryan Donnell .... additional camera operator
Vicente Franco .... additional camera
Michael Goldberg .... additional camera
Nick Higgins .... still photographer
Bess Kargman .... additional camera
Bess Kargman .... still photographer
Daniel J. Lyons .... additional camera (as Dan Lyons)
Mike Schmiedeler .... additional camera
Andy Schocken .... additional camera
Yaniv Schulman .... still photographer
Don Starnes .... additional camera
Margaret Teich .... still photographer
Zvonimir Vidusin .... additional camera
Andrew Watson .... additional camera
Alan Weeks .... additional camera
Joshua Z. Weinstein .... additional camera (as Joshua Weinstein)
Editorial Department
Yasmin Assemi .... editing assistant
Sam Daley .... colorist
Michael X. Flores .... assistant editor
Brad Fuller .... consulting editor
Barbara Jean Kearney .... digital intermediate account executive: Technicolor New York
Mary Manhardt .... consulting editor
Carmelita Naval .... editing assistant
Chris Seward .... consulting editor (as Christopher Seward)
Zachary Stuart-Pontier .... consulting editor (as Zac Stuart-Pontier)
Lindsay Utz .... consulting editor
Walter Wurzburger .... digital intermediate account executive: Technicolor New York
Holly Buechel .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Michelle Collins .... music researcher
Chris Hajian .... arranger: original music
Chris Hajian .... music producer: original music
Chris Hajian .... musician: piano and keyboards
Eileen O'Neill .... music clearance
Bernd Schoenhart .... musician: acoustic and electric guitars
Jessica Weiss .... music editor
Jake Monaco .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Other crew
Paul Alexiou .... transcriber
Yasmin Assemi .... transcriber
Kristine Beilke .... transcriber
Naor Ben-Yehoyada .... translator: Hebrew
Megan Billman .... production assistant and intern
Carol Boles .... transcriber
Nadine Bommer .... choreographer
Stanley Charloff .... accountant: Charlestan Financial Services
Stephan Dominique .... production assistant and intern
Servy Gallardo .... choreographer
Meredith Gunning .... production assistant and intern
Kathleen Ham .... transcriber
Lauren Heirigs .... production assistant and intern
Viktor Kabaniaev .... choreographer
Tara Kyle .... production assistant and intern
Kelly Leisman .... production assistant and intern
Bonnie B. Liu .... transcriber
Zarrin Maani .... translator: Chinese
Sharon Marcus .... translator: Hebrew
John Matarese .... accountant: Ercolini & Company
Laura Mazzeo .... transcriber
Mary Molina .... translator: Spanish
Leilani Montes .... production assistant and intern
Erinn O'Dear .... transcriber
Midori Okada .... translator: Japanese
Matt Orlando .... translator: French
Marius Petipa .... choreographer
Roland Petit .... choreographer
Kate Ransome Wilcox .... transcriber (as Kate Wilcox)
Azriel Relph .... transcriber
Marc H. Simon .... legal services: Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard (as Marc Simon)
Michelle Smith .... choreographer
Walter Smith-Randolph .... transcriber
Erin Tolman .... transcriber
Michael Tucci .... accountant: Ercolini & Company
Peter Wood .... translator: French
Danielle Renfrew Behrens .... thanks (as Danielle Renfrew)
Charles Braverman .... thanks (as Chuck Braverman)
Henry Joost .... thanks
Sophie Kargman .... special thanks
Amanda Micheli .... thanks
Alex Reznik .... thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
95 min
Sound Mix:
Dolby Digital | Dolby Digital (Mastered in Logic and Avid)
Filming Locations:


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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful.
"Sometimes it's painful.", 2 May 2012

If you are between the ages of 9 and 19, and you are a dedicated (and hugely talented) ballet dancer, then the Youth America Grand Prix is a dance competition you'll know all about. And dream about. It doesn't matter where you're from (some of the "stars" of this documentary come from Africa and Latin America): given colossal natural ability, extremely hard work and the right guidance, you, too, can try for the glittering prize. Bess Kargman's excellent film follows seven kids as they prepare for, and participate in, this intense contest.

What a joy to get to review something that isn't brain-dead! Ballet is very difficult to do, very beautiful to watch, and requires intelligence and artistic flair (rather like a good documentary, really), and Bess Kargman has made a ballet film which is not only picking up awards faster than Halle Berry gathers motoring citations, but "First Position" has achieved the nigh-impossible for a work of non-fiction, and is going on general theatrical release. It will hit the screens on Friday, May 4.

The premise is a simple and compelling one. Youngsters from all over the world strive to qualify for the Grand Prix finals, held in New York City. When the very best gather for the dance-off, the pressure is just about unbearable. Each contestant will have five minutes on stage. If you're sick, or overcome by nerves, or if you stumble during your routine … too bad. All those years you worked for this, all those things you sacrificed in order to get here, are riding on the next three hundred seconds. Five thousand dancers enter each year, with this number being whittled down to a couple of hundred for the New York finals. From this small group, the winners will emerge. Kargman knows how to build suspense – but the who-won-it is only one element in this excellent film. We get to see the physical pain these kids go through (check out the "foot-stretcher" used by little Aran, which looks like a medieval torture implement), we hear from their parents and dance teachers … but, most of all, there is the beautiful ballet itself.

Like any documentary worth its salt, "First Position" asks as many questions as it answers. Thought-provoking contributions abound, like that from the teacher who states openly, "Kids who are pursuing ballet as a career give up their childhood." Can such a sacrifice be justified? Who gets to make the choice? Which is worse – to push small children through the grueling practice schedules, or not to push them – thereby passing up the chance for success? Is it fair to expose youngsters to the appalling pressure of the final round? This is a film which stays with the viewer long after the final credits have rolled.

One of the things you need to be good at, when you shoot a documentary, is judging what not to do or say. In this, Kargman has triumphed. She is never obtrusive, and she lets the images (and the kids) tell the story. Critic Dave Robson, reviewing the film for the Toronto International Film Festival (where, incidentally, it won considerable acclaim) puts it like this: "Though she casts a wide net, Kargman is careful to include only the most essential commentary. She frequently complements her cast's words with beautiful shots of dancing and juxtaposes them with more candid and vulnerable moments. It is perhaps trite to say that a film about an aesthetic discipline looks beautiful, but "First Position" does. It certainly helps that dancers are well lit, but more to the point, Kargman keeps her cinematography simple. To be too clever would distract from the dancing." In case anyone reading this is under the misapprehension that it's just a bunch of well-heeled preppy youngsters indulging in a glorified hobby, it is worth mentioning Michaela Deprince. This young finalist hails from Sierra Leone, where she witnessed her parents getting murdered. "It's a miracle I'm even here," she says – and she bears the scars to prove it. Indeed, overall, this is a singularly resilient bunch of kids. After all they have been through, it is surprising – not to mention heart-warming – to see how balanced, articulate and likable they all are. Take, for example, the tiny 12-year-old Miko Fogarty, who frequently has to field comments from others, to the effect that she has missed out on her childhood. She doesn't happen to agree.

This is Bess Kargman's breakthrough movie, and much credit she deserves. She directed the project and also took a major hand in the editing. Her director of photography, Nick Higgins, has done a lot of documentary work in his career – but surely nothing as visually captivating as this.

By the way, for those of you who, like me, have a penchant for movie titles which contain more than one level of meaning, "First Position" refers of course to winning the Grand Prix, and therefore being guaranteed a prestigious professional contract … but it is also a ballet term, denoting the preliminary posture – standing with heels together, toes splayed outwards. The things you learn on IMDb, huh?

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