Ballet Boys (Kenneth Elvebakk, 2014)
Ballet Boys was the only film I managed to see at the Scandinavian film festival, and I’m confident that this was a worthy choice. Ballet Boys is a Norwegian documentary that follows three fourteen year old boys – Lukas, Syvert, and Torgeir – who are interested in pursuing ballet as a career.
Ballet is bloody hard work. (Not that I’ve personally done it past the age of 5 – it was hard enough then!) It’s incredible that something that looks so graceful is in fact so physically painful. Every time they stood on pointe barefoot I cringed. The potential for injury is so high and following a ballet career path is fraught with so much risk. These kids are only fourteen and are already being interrogated by their school about whether they really want to pursue ballet and to think about their back-up plan. Of course, a back-up plan is necessary. But so depressing when all you want to do is DANCE, sir!
The three boys and their families are all interesting characters to watch, although the film gets pretty Lukas-heavy. Not to worry because he is gorgeous inside and out. I would have loved to see more of his dancing, but unfortunately the film was pretty light-on in this respect. For a ballet documentary this is surprising, and they definitely could have added some longer sequences considering its short (75 minute) running time. 2011’s First Position (only released in Australia in 2013) is certainly superior in this respect, although that film was specifically about competition. Though there are elements of competition here, this film is about the journey of teenage male dancers as they grapple with decisions about their future. It could have delved deeper but it was satisfying enough.
Norway looked cold. Funny that. But it added a further dimension to the film and made it stand out compared to the usual American ballet portrayals I’m used to seeing. The score was somewhat perplexing at times – ominous music when there was no reason for it. They’re going down an escalator to hang out somewhere – why are you making the audience feel on edge? Maybe that’s the Norway way. Or maybe it wasn’t made that well. I’m not quite sure which but who cares, ballet is cool.