Ballet Boys 2014
Ballettguttene (original title)
1h 15min | Documentary, Sport | 14 April 2015 (Norway)
Ballet Boys takes you through disappointments, victories, forging of friendship, first loves, doubt, faith, growing apart from each other, finding your own way and own ambitions, all mixed with the beautiful expression of ballet.
At first it seems as if Kenneth Elvebakk’s documentary is going to cover the kind of thematic ground staked out by BILLY ELLIOT (2000) in portraying the world of teenage male ballet dancers. They are aware of the fact that to an outsider the world of dance might seem rather effeminate, but in truth they have to commit themselves to long hours of training, often in the most inhospitable weather.
As the documentary unfolds, however, so we understand that the focus of attention is actually on the relationship between the three protagonists – Lukas, Sylvert and Torgeir. From a mixed-race background, Sylvert wishes he could be 100% Norwegian so that he could find a girlfriend. Sometimes his desire to continue ballet wavers slightly, but he misses the camaraderie as much as the training. Torgeir, the tallest of the three, is perhaps the most potentially talented dancer; but eventually it is Lukas who advances the most, as he obtains a place at London’s Royal Ballet School. Elvebakk’s film focuses on the pain of separation, as he leaves his friends back home in Oslo and moves to a student dormitory in the center of London.
Yet we are not meant to feel sorry for him, or to sympathize with his two friends, who have grown up with him but not have to manage on their own. On the contrary Elvebakk emphasizes how the three boys are completely focused on developing their abilities as dancers. They might not become professionals in the future, but at least they haven’t tried. The experience is very good for developing their self-discipline: training involves a lot of work on their own in the rehearsal-hall, as well as keeping their muscles supple through regular stretching exercises. One cannot help but admire their dedication.
Filmed with an acute grasp of the importance of setting – the cramped rehearsal-hall, the darkened areas off-stage as the boys perform, the snow-covered streets of Oslo in winter, and the crowded streets of central London, BALLET BOYS is the kind of film that increases admiration for the strength of human beings as they pursue their (perhaps impossible) dreams.
Director: Kenneth Elvebakk
Writer: Kenneth Elvebakk
Stars: Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Syvert Lorenz Garcia