FIFA: Ballet Boys: It’s more than just a story of boys dancing

If you have ever thought ballet dancing is all about young girls and pink frilly tutus, then think again.

This film, directed by Norwegian documentary producer Kenneth Elvebakk, follows the journey of three childhood friends all vying for their collective dream of becoming a successful professional ballet dancer. Originally released in 2014, this film was part of this year’s International Festival of Films on Art.

The journey to the top does not look easy as it looks. Lukas, Lorenz, and Torgeir, the main characters in this documentary, collectively juggle in between accomplishing various feats - such as keeping up with school grades, parents’ expectations, their own inhibitions, their personal ambitions, and forging a strong friendship amidst friendly rivalry, all within the confines at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, where they see themselves at a crossroads.

While the documentary’s namesake may spark your curiosity from a spectator's perspective, the way how Elvebakk presents these narratives is not only tactful in the sense of documenting the lives of these young dancers and having them share their stories in front of the camera as they go; he focuses on the human emotions that surround this discipline than what people think about boys taking a discipline that is long been perceived to be feminine in most minds. It has a neutral tone yet it has an engaging feel, it bears no sensationalism but it will make you want to learn more, the desire is at the heart of this story, and perhaps, it be one of the strongest points in this film.

Another strong point to why Ballet Boys stands out is how diverse ballet dance can be, and how it can break cultural and social barriers. While we see how Elvebakk presents into the narrative the tale of two Norwegians, one vying for a spot at a prestigious school in London, and another who’s still on the fence of deciding where to go in his life, it also presents the story of a dancer who identifies himself as part of a cultural minority who is vying to reach his dream despite the personal struggles and expectations that come his way.

There’s something magical about this dance that we see in Ballet Boys: its a viewfinders window into fulfilling a lifelong dream, a dream that defies the gender norm of perceived masculinity and femininity. The film does an excellent job in putting our impressions all aside, with crisp cinematography, a really inviting ambient soundtrack, and a satisfying and euphoric emotion of cheering for these young prodigies in their own right when you finish watching it.

In essence, dance is an expression of the soul, and this documentary captures the humanness of this art in what would be the best objective way possible. Watching this within the first five minutes of this documentary, and it will capture and warm your heart, and moreso root for these kids. “Ballet Boys” definitely good food for the soul.  

In a universe where the heteronormativity is broken, this is one for the books in the way that these voices - an unlikely one - are being heard and shared to the world.

Ballet Boys played as a part of the 2015 edition of the Montreal Festival international du film sur l'art