I finally got around to renting the First Position
DVD. I was in no hurry, having read so many commentaries on the film over the last year. And I just wanted to mention that I had exactly the same reaction to it as Birdsall describes so well here:
Birdsall, on 02 June 2012 - 06:25 PM, said:
People mentioned the Japanese mother and how the audience they witnessed thought negatively about her, but my mother, who is Japanese, is the exact same way. I actually expected her to be way worse after reading the comments here. I really didn't see anything wrong with her. Her daughter seems to want to dance. She's not forcing her to dance, and she let her son quit. So she's not forcing him. I don't really see how she was bad in any way. Asian mothers want the best for their children, and they love them 100%. Their whole lives center around their children, but they can be strict. My mother was strict, but it was coupled with immense love. I read an article that authoritarian parenting has a bad rap as "bad parenting" in the U.S. but Asian mothers often use authoritarian parenting methods but almost always coupled with lots of love. That makes a huge difference. I don't think Asians would find her negative in any way. But I do think it is probably unusual for most Americans.
I also did not feel like Rebecca came off as a joke. To me she didn't look like she had it all or was privileged. She looked very middle class and her parents were hoping she'd get a scholarship b/c they were investing in her "career" so money was obviously an issue for them. They weren't rolling in cash. That didn't seem like a privileged person at all. I felt like Miko had a much more privileged existence than Rebecca. I also expected Rebecca to be annoying since I read that audiences mocked her, but I thought she seemed like a nice person who had talent.
Joan Sebastian's story was truly like a fairy tale. He said he looked up to Carlos Acosta, and then he got a scholarship to the Royal Ballet. It is an incredible story. If anything the phone calls with his parents sounded much more like Tiger Parents than Miko's mother did. But then he visited them, and I saw how much love they had for their son, and that balanced it out. I am a firm believer that as long as you love your child and show it, you can be strict and/or mean at times and it won't matter. You just can't be mean all the time without balancing it with love.
And like Elena, I just didn't have any problem with Rebecca just because she was obsessed with pink and princesses - she was a normal teenager, and she had obvious talent. So there she was. And obviously only a few can win the scholarships and contracts at YAGP. But what the film fails to mention is that YAGP is hardly the only way to get into a company. I'd love to know just how many principals and soloists have won major contests, and how many have not. I'm willing to bet there is a large percentage of great dancers who were never contest winners.
elena, on 06 July 2012 - 07:52 PM, said:
I found myself rooting for all of them, yes even Rebecca. I was especially happy to see Joan win the scholarship, my heart went out to him because he does seem to have enormous pressure to succeed (and his family doesn't have bad intentions, it is just the facts of where they are from). All in all I enjoyed it.
And the Aran Bell and Gaya Yemini friendship was super, well, cute. They both came across as great kids with tremendous talent. I really hope they are able to continue on with dance and really develop as artists.
I was more frustrated with the lack of overall details about YAGP and other similar contests. And I wanted to know more about how the scholarships/contracts worked - what schools and companies were offering scholarships/contracts at YAGP and how is it decided which dancers go where.