Ballet Boys (2014)

September 7th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Kenneth Elvebakk

Documentary; Norway 2014, 75 min.

In this documentary equivalent to Billy Elliott, Kenneth Elvebakk explores the experience of three teenagers who follow their dream in Norway. Lukas, Syvert and Torgeir live in Oslo, finishing their last year at Secondary School and trying to get into the Oslo National Academy of Arts, to crown many years of training in classical ballet. Though close friends, they could not be more different: Lukas is the star of the trio, he even dreams of going to The Royal Ballet School in London, the most prestigious of its kind in Europe. Syvert, full name Syvert Lorenz Garcia, is the odd one out, his parents are from South East Asia, and he is very much aware of his special status: “Sometimes I only wish to be Norwegian, I mean white”. He drops out of Ballet School, but returns just in time, to train for the Entrance examination at the National Academy of Arts. Torgeir is quiet and unassuming sort of a middle-child position in the trio; he fits in easily and tries to succeed without much fuss.

Elvebakk follows his main protagonists in a sensitive, unpretentious but humanistic style. There is so much to take in for them: the struggle to do well at school and excel at time-consuming ballet lessons, leaving very little time for a social life: not to mention financial pressures. Two of the boys travel to France for a competition, without success. Lukas and Torgeir are dismayed at Syvert’s decision to quit, but equally joyful when he returns: they have been through thick and thin together. Finally, the big day of the entrance examination arrives…and with it the twist. BALLET BOYS works best when it focuses on the human angle. Far away from any gloss and glamour, it offers a sober look at this life, the camera work is intimate without being intrusive, yet, at just over an hour, it all feels quite rushed. Elvebakk is collaborative with his cast, friendly but always analytical. AS



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