It's always a wonderful experience to watch the powerful, precise and graceful movement of ballet dancers and the flow and sometimes abrupt changes of their bodily postures and the elegant variation in the rhythm of their motions. Such visual enjoyment is not necessarily confined only to the pieces ballet dancers perform on the stage. When one gets the chance to see what the dancers are doing during their training and rehearsals, when some of their movements are not yet perfect, one gets another kind of enjoyment: we see how difficult it is to get it right. We see the kind of physical and psychological hardships and sometimes literal tortures that dancers have to endure before they become those glittering stars we see in their gala performances as they dash, flit or turn about on the stage with apparent effortless elegance and grace.
I got one such chance at the Cine Grand last night. I saw Norwegian documentary director Elvebakk Kenneth's Ballet Boys (2013). Elvebakk (born 1966) is a graduate of University of Oslo, Norwegian School of Management and Oslo Film and Television Academy and has been working for a number of years for for the radio and TV section of The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).
The documentary tracks 4 years in the lives of three aspiring adolescent male ballerinos in Norway: Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Syvert Lorenz Garcia and Torgeir Lund, how they met at the Norwegian Ballet School, why they joined the school, the rigor of their training, what and how they were taught, their failures the uncertainties they faced, their developing friendship, the hidden tensions amongst them, the attitudes of their respective families as well as snippets of their training, auditions, the joys of being accepted, and for Syvert, abandonment and then re-starting and for Lukas, his invitation to audition for and final acceptance by the Royal Ballet School in London and actually deciding to do his training there, something which requires his parents to pour into it all their financial resources they could amass in support. Lukas is gifted. He's also lucky to have the kind of parents he has.
A great deal of thought has been put into the documentary by Elvebakk who wrote as well as directed the film, skilfully interspersing episodes of training with interviews of the dancers at crucial points of their budding development about how they felt, how they chatted at the locker room or in the streets, how they supported each other, as well as how their different parental attitudes affect what the aspiring youthful dancers were deciding what they really wanted to do etc. There's never a dull moment, thanks to the excellent cinematographic work of Torstein Nodland and the music by Henrik Skram and composer Goran Obad . Most of the films about ballets on the market are about ballerinas. So it's a very welcome addition to the genre to have one about the trials and tribulations of budding male dancers. Through the smooth flow of the documentary, we manage to peer into the hearts and minds of three different young male dancers and are able to share part of their anxieties and their joy. Who knows if they will not become our next Nureyev?