“Little dancers”, touching the stars with your eyes

Little dancers **

by Anne-Claire Dalivot

French film, 1 h 30

They are 7, 8, 10 and 11 years old. They are called Jeanne, Olympe, Ida and Marie. They do not live in the same districts of Paris and do not go to the same school – during the day at least. Because as soon as school is over, they head north of the capital to meet in the locker rooms of Muriel’s studio, where they hasten to put on their leotards and pointe shoes. It is with this dance teacher as hard as it is encouraging that these young girls, who dream of becoming stars, train ” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday … Sunday is my day off », As well as Jeanne’s count, from the top of her meter and some.

Always smile

To the rhythm of the piano and Muriel’s staccato indications, the legs bend, stretch and soar. And the faces light up because passion embellishes but also because you have to smile, always. ” Suffer smiling We hear the teacher whisper to her students – when they are not already saying it to themselves. “ Otherwise, you will lose points “, Says Olympe to her sister, also a dancer, as they dine while watching videos of their latest performances over and over again:” Me, I smile a lot because when you make mistakes, you have to smile even more.

It’s no secret that the world of dance is as brilliant as it is exhausting, the competition to reach the heavens is so fierce and the stars numbered. Girls know it and this knowledge motivates as much as it weighs. It is this fine border between joy and anguish, patience and impatience, that the camera films with modesty and compassion. His eye and his ear invite themselves to the heart of dance lessons but also recreation, which the little dancers spend training alone, and even in their rooms, where united, they have fun playing the dance competition. .

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The gap between the (pre) occupations of these girls and those of other children, becomes more and more apparent as the documentary interferes, with tenderness, in the intimacy of their lives where the movement of the body dances with that. spirit. Because these little dancers are also great thinkers, whose ideas touch the heart as much as their pirouettes the eyes.

The breath of childhood

More than a documentary on dance, this first feature film by director Anne-Claire Dolivet is a film about childhood, its breath, its purity, its innocence – but also about its early loss. How do we live, what do we think, what do we feel when we are 7 and 10 years old, the body and the speech barely formed, and that already, the stomach ache, the insomnia, the judgment of self, the look on his appearance and the fear of failure express, in too adult terms, the reality of his young inner life?

In one of the last scenes of the film, Muriel says to the radiant little dancers: “ These moments of beauty, you have to take them. That’s dance, that’s life. It is the art of the ephemeral. These words echo like an echo of the film. Without ever forcing it, he delivers poetry to the screen, a precious taste of life, which oscillates and whirls, swings and soars, loses its balance and, tirelessly, finds it again.


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