The film focuses on the high-school experiences of three aspiring dancers training in Norway. Lukas is introduced first. His parents tell us he often doesn’t get home before nine o’clock. One of the other dances admits that Lukas trains “the longest” and “the hardest.” Syvert comes across as more ambivalent. “Maybe I’ll be an engineer,” he says about his fall back plan if ballet doesn’t work out. That career, like ballet, requires a lot of time and focus, and maybe Syvert juts wants to be a kid. Torgeir tells us that everything is possible if you want it enough. Will that optimism fuel him to success, or is he in for a rude awakening?
While all the elements are there for a real crowd pleaser The Ballet Boys never quite manages to decide which story it wants to tell. The competition format, whether it be in a sports film or a documentary, is hard to mess up: introduce the characters early on and the natural drama of competition should carry the day towards a climax where winners are revealed.
My other quibble with the film, probably the more serious one, is that there is not as much dancing as you would expect. We get snippets here and there, but more time is spent listening to the boys talk about ballet than watching them dance.
Yet despite some questionable directing choices and editing, the film does give us a glimpse into the dance industry and the costs of pursing one’s dream of becoming a performer. As one sees with the Olympics every few years, the surest way to get American audiences interested in a sport or an art with which they are less familiar is by telling the stories of the participants.
The Ballet Boys is currently available exclusively on Itunes, but it can be bought on DVD from First Run Features starting October 13, 2015.