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Thursday, May 3


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#1 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:48 PM

Reviews of "First Position."

TIME

In topic it calls to mind Jill Krementz’s much-loved photo-heavy book set at the School of American Ballet, A Very Young Dancer, which a whole generation of young girls pored over after its 1976 publication. (For me, Krementz’s book was crack you could get with a library card.) But there is a modern twist. First Position introduces the competitors, explores their background in the most appealing light and then heads into the contest itself, a tried and true narrative approach that has worked for everything from Spellbound to television’s American-Idol. But while it is less cinematically innovative than last year’s dance documentary darling Pina, with its 3-D excitement and its en plein air dancing, first-time director Kargman triumphs by picking characters who largely defy expectations — however unfair it may be to still think of waifish, pink-clad girls in tutus and Russian men in tights when thinking of ballet dancers.


FilmJournal

But it’s Sierra Leone war orphan Michaela DePrince who has the most amazing backstory. Adopted by a middle-class Jewish couple in Philadelphia after she and her family endured unspeakable horrors in Africa (she witnessed her parents being killed by rebels), she fell in love with dance and got the best training her modest and oh-so-loving adoptive parents could provide. Michaela won multiple scholarships to prestigious schools, including the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She persevered in spite of considerable challenges, including faulty skin pigmentation. Even on the eve of the film’s competition, she suffers severe foot damage. But what spirit and determination!



#2 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:56 PM

Q&A with Niel DePonte, the arranger of the score for Pennsylvania Ballet's "Peter Pan," by Peter Dobrin in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Peter Dobrin: Why did you choose Elgar’s music to score Peter Pan?

Niel DePonte: Trey McIntyre and I actually started with the music of many composers — Tchaikovsky, Korngold, Elgar and others. When we flew to Houston to meet with music director Ermanno Florio [where the production was premiered], he suggested that we use the music of only one composer — Mendelssohn, perhaps. But as I had already spent about two years getting into Trey’s head about what the dramatic arc would be of the ballet, I realized that the only composer who had been prolific enough to offer as many different moods and scenic contexts as we had in mind, and who wrote suites as well as long-form works, was Elgar. But I was limited by copyright laws to works that had been written before c. 1926, so that prohibited works from the last eight years of his creative life. I also stayed away from Elgar’s most famous works: Enigma, the concerti, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, etc.



#3 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:58 PM

An interview with Christopher Stowell by Allan Ulrich in The San Francisco Chronicle.

"I have sort of an agreement with Lauren Jonas at the Diablo Ballet that I will supervise her Balanchine revivals," says Stowell from his Portland home. "She was very understanding with me when I was starting out earlier to develop my own choreography."



#4 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 02:47 PM

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre travels to Canada.

In its history, the program has presented over 450 performers, paid Atlanta area dance companies more than $33,000 in performance fees and served an audience of more than 11,500, according to its website.

On April 29, Metropolitan Ballet Theater's 34 dancers and staff traveled to Montreal for Regional Dance America's National Festival. As members of Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, Metropolitan Ballet Theatre participates annually in the southeastern Regional Dance America festival. Every four years, all regions come together for one, large national festival. Metropolitan Ballet Theatre students and staff jonied 2,000 dancers, 90 companies and 250 directors and teachers in Montreal, for 5 days of classes and performances.



#5 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 02:50 PM

Tala Lee-Turton becomes the ninth British student to be accepted by the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

The Telegraph

Tala,16, will make history in Sepember when she embarks on a four year training programme in Moscow, one of only a handful of British dancers to make the journey in the Bolshoi's 236 year history.


While she is there Tala, who started dancing when she was four, will have to learn Russian to help her settle in the country and to continue the rest of her academic studies.

Daily Mail


She attended programmes of the Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Yorkshire Ballet Scholarship Centre and for the last five years Tala has attended Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire, after winning a coveted Music and Dance Scheme scholarship.

More recently she has been personally coached by the Bristol Russian Ballet School, which is where she found her love for the Russian method of training.






#6 dirac

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:28 PM

A review of "First Position" by Manohla Dargis in The New York Times.


Ms. Kargman’s approach is straightforward, almost matter-of-factly prosaic. Shooting in digital and working with the director of photography Nick Higgins, she tagged after her subjects, traveling across the United States as well as to Europe and Latin America. This gives the movie a sense of depth, as when she follows Joan home to Colombia; but because she chased six different children, ceaselessly cutting from one to another, it also means she could only skim the surface. She’s an efficient filmmaker, however, and using batches of on-screen text and some ruthless editing — the competition dances are, unfortunately, cut down — she manages to create pocket portraits of children whose dedication to their art is by turns inspiring, daunting and, at times, a little frightening.



#7 dirac

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:20 AM

A review of "First Position" by Farran Smith Nehme in The New York Post.

All the dancers are sympathetic, even if your heart goes out more easily to Michaela, the orphan adopted from Sierra Leone after her parents were murdered, than to Rebecca, shown wearing Chanel earrings and shopping at Tiffany. And the coaches and parents are far from stereotypical ogres. The mother of one dancer, Miko, arranges the whole family around her daughter’s training, but the true ambition comes from Miko.

Bess Kargman’s direction breaks no new ground, and the pedestrian score doesn’t benefit from comparison with the classical pieces from the competition. Yet the movie still seems fresh in the way it respects both the art in ballet and the discipline it demands — even in childhood.




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