Undeniably effective as drama, as we ponder the varying degrees of ambition and talent driving these young people to push their bodies beyond the limit in the hope of grasping a future in the spotlight.
Trevor Johnston, Time Out, 2013-04-10
It does a great job developing its characters through its visuals - these are superphysical kids - and honing in on family dynamics.
Jennie Punter, Globe and Mail, 2012-07-19
If you have a yearning to feel awkward, inadequate and lazy, watching the whirling teenage (and preteen) talents in director Bess Kargman's First Position will do the trick.
Linda Barnard, Toronto Star, 2012-07-19
When it's over, you won't remember so much about who won and who lost. Instead, what remains is the expression on a young dancer's face, reflected in a mirror: showing the joy of being in love with what you do.
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times, 2012-05-24
For someone (like me) who has never been to a ballet, the talent of these teens and tweens is a revelation.
Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2012-05-18
A number of the performances are plain stunning - Aran and Joan, in particular, seem born to move - and in many ways watching the movie is like watching a sporting event; there are winners and losers and favorites to cheer on.
Tom Long, Detroit News, 2012-05-17
It's an intense journey, and Kargman captures it all, down to the dancers' bloodied and bruised feet.
Amy Hitt, Washington Post, 2012-05-11
Yes, it is possible to create a gripping documentary about the ballet world without resorting to "Black Swan" melodramatics.
Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Chronicle, 2012-05-10
Child ballet dancer and former journalist Bess Kargman brings a dancer's passion and insight to her directorial debut, illuminating the addictive magic and fierce demands of a ballet dancer's life.
Jordan Levin, Miami Herald, 2012-05-10
Because its subjects are so driven and so talented, "First Position," which is about ballet, is more gripping than the norm.
Ty Burr, Boston Globe, 2012-05-10
It's in the quick audience-reaction shots of the young dancers' exultant parents and cringing private instructors that the movie finds its most nakedly human moments.
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2012-05-10
The film shows the grueling work it takes for young dancers like Zamora to look effortless on stage, and First Position shows teachers who range from supportive to borderline abusive.
Ellen Dunkel, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2012-05-10
This is yet another competition doc in the unending legacy of Spellbound, but Kargman is light on her feet, and she has chosen to follow a fascinating group of kids preparing for the 2010 Youth America Grand Prix.
David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture, 2012-05-07
Beneath the jetes and bleeding feet, First Position is about toughness of mind as much as visions of beauty. In one case it's about a transformation so profound as to be unfathomable.
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal, 2012-05-05
First Position overcomes its predictable elements thanks to the inherent visual drama of watching children strain their bodies to the limit in obsessive pursuit of their goals.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter, 2012-05-04
First Position is an unabashedly inspirational portrait of what even very young people can accomplish with discipline and dedication.
Dana Stevens, Slate, 2012-05-04
I've become weary of documentaries about winning prizes, but this one is special because the kids are. They are ardent and amazingly accomplished, but they are also... kids.
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor, 2012-05-04
[It] seems fresh in the way it respects both the art in ballet and the discipline it demands - even in childhood.
Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post, 2012-05-04
An appealing, largely upbeat documentary about young ballet dancers duking it out, sometimes on point and in tulle, for top honors at the Youth America Grand Prix.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 2012-05-03
It's a great introduction to the intriguing mix of parents - neurotic, loving, pressuring, calming - who raise great kids who do great things.
Linda Holmes, NPR, 2012-05-03