CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 17 . . . . April 29, 2005
Ballet Dancer/Hockey Player is one in a 13-part series of National Film Board productions called "My Brand New Life." The two main characters here -- the dancer and the hockey player- are natural and engaging boys of about 12. They exhibit their differing viewpoints and a passion for their diametrically opposite activities from the first minute of the film. They each proudly display awards for their accomplishments, introduce family members and try to explain why they are prepared to put so much into two very different kinds of endeavour.
Nikita, from a family of Lithuanian immigrants, buys sports equipment, practices with Pasquale's PeeWee team and participates in a real hockey game. Pasquale, whose proud Italian-Canadian father is on camera at the beginning, enters a dancewear shop with trepidation ("These clothes are too tight!"), is shown around the dance school by Nikita and prepares for a recital put on for more senior students of L'Ecole National de Ballet Contemporain. Along the way, the boys keep video diaries in which they talk about their experiences and their feelings about the project.
There are also a few kid-in-the-street interviews used to show a variety of opinions about ballet and hockey, and who should participate. Interestingly, although there is one female player on Pasquale's team, nobody here talks about girls playing hockey. A few of these clips were too stagy, obviously inserted as discussion starters.
The film, and probably the series in general, would be most useful for group viewing in a classroom setting. This title would provide a lead-in to conversation about sex roles, athletic ability and understanding other points of view. The liner notes include some suggestions discussion topics and pre- and post-screening activities for teachers and other group leaders.
There are a few technical problems with the film. In trying to make this as natural as possible, some of the unscripted dialogue is garbled, and some of the scenes, especially at the beginning, have a home-movie feel about them. However, the action moves along well, and, generally speaking, from the catchy introduction to the final words from the young athletes, this is a pleasant viewing experience.
Ellen Heaney is the Head of Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library in New Westminster, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.