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Sep 3 2012 11:57AM
First Position focus
NEAR PERFECT: Michaela DePrince executes a grand jeté on a rooftop.
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Tankiso Komane

First Position, an award-winning documentary making waves across the globe, has been commissioned for two exclusive shows at the Joburg Theatre (formerly the Civic Theatre) on September 8 and 15.

This groundbreaking documentary tells the true-life story of a Sierra Leone war orphan, Michaela DePrince, who is now living her dreams as a ballerina in New York.

Hot on the heels of quite an impressive season in some of the major theatres around America, this will be the second time First Position is screened here in Jozi.

It is coming back due to popular demand three months after its successful South African premiere in May.

Mzansi Productions’ publicist Lindsay McDonald said: “I am so pleased that South African audiences are getting the privilege to enjoy this movie in the comfort and grandeur of the Joburg Theatre before many other audiences around the world.”

Centred on the lives of a group of young dancers as they participate in the Youth America Grand Prix, First Position is one of the first major productions to come from the ballet company established as the result of the merger between the South African Ballet Theatre and Mzansi Productions.

Mzansi Productions acquired South African rights for several screenings of First Position during its premiere recently at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

“The producers thought it would be a good idea for our company to screen the film as we work with some of the dancers who appear in it,” said McDonald, referring to the 17-year-old DePrince who was in the country last month to take part in the South African premiere of the classical ballet Le Corsaire.

When she was four, Michaela was adopted by an American family and taken to the US.

She started ballet lessons and soon showed exceptional talent.

Now at only 17, after winning prestigious accolades, she is about to join the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York, one of America’s best-known ballet companies.

In the film, the young ballerina, who is determined to set an example as a “delicate black” dancer, addresses the racial stereotyping and issues associated with ballet and proves once and for all that not all skinny ballerinas are anorexic and not all male dancers are gay and so on.

The film, above all, shows the level of dedication required to succeed as a dancer is no different to any other challenges people face in their profession.

Created, produced and directed by American journalism graduate and television producer Bess Kargman, First Position has won numerous awards at major international film conventions such as the San Francisco and New York Documentary Festivals, including the 2011 Toronto Film Festival where it made its world premiere.

A worldwide affair in every sense of the word, dancers featured in the film come from as far as Italy, Japan, Columbia, Israel, America and Sierra Leone.

Tickets are available at Computicket.

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