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Nantucketer's movie, "First Position" exposes the real ballet world..

”A compelling and emotionally involving film. These performers are so young, so serious, so full of dreams and so hard on themselves that it is difficult not to be moved by their striving.”

-Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

2012 Nantucket Dance Festival
Nantucketer Bess Kargman brings her film “First Position” to the Nantucket Atheneum July 25th

Follow in the inspirational footsteps of seven talented ballet dancers (ages nine to nineteen) as they struggle to maintain form in the face of injury and personal sacrifice on their way to one of the most prestigious youth ballet competitions in the world.

First time director Bess Kargman gained unprecedented access to the2010 Youth America Grand Prix , the world’s largest student ballet competition,  for the making of her new documentary “First Position” released in theaters in May 2012.

Kargman will present “First Position” at two screenings on July 25 at the Nantucket Atheneum as part of the 2012 Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival. Admission to the film is free, but a ticket is required. Pick up a ticket at the Atheneum box office in the garden or online at

 Kargman, 30, grew up in Brookline, MA,  spending her summers on Nantucket. First Position has been hailed as a festival “darling” after winning audience awards at film festivals around the country. Since the movie’s theatrical release in May (distributed by Sundance Selects) First Position has screened in nearly 200 movie theaters in North America. In the fall it will be released internationally as well.

 “I have spent every summer on Nantucket since the day I was born. During my childhood we would be there for at least three months a year.  In fact, one of my youngest memories is learning how to bike ride along Mill Street,” she said.

“My entire childhood I danced. I always had this huge love of ballet, despite my early “retirement” at the age of 14 when I went on to play ice hockey. Fourteen years later, when I took a break from journalism and set out to direct my first feature film, I decided to make a movie that I always wished had existed”, she said.

She found her subject one day when she spotted a group of children dressed in ballet costumes entering the Grand Prix competition  New York City. Following them, she ended up sneaking into the sold out performance and left that day deciding to make a film that told  the story of the what the dance students who compete must go through to prepare.

“I knew I wanted to show how diverse the ballet world is in terms of socio-economic status, race, and geography. Additionally, I wanted to shatter stereotypes (not all skinny ballerinas are anorexic, not all male ballet dancers are gay, not all stage mothers are psycho, and so on). I also wanted to show that a competition that awards scholarships to elite ballet schools can pave the way to making it as a dancer, but that the steep climb to get there is daunting, as ballet training is extremely expensive and injuries often ruin careers. Most importantly, I wanted to show that the level of devotion (and amount of training) required to succeed as a dancer is no different from any other professional sport” she said.”

Kargamn is a graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she concentrated in the arts prior to earning a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Ms. Kargman is available for interviews.