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First Position and the art of dance, Troma on YouTube

by Mark Burger

Throughout the month of August, Winston-Salem’s Hanesbrand Theatre has presented an exclusive selection of dance documentaries in conjunction with Emerging Pictures, having screened La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet and Pina earlier this month.

Beginning this Thursday, the third and final presentation of the series will open: Director Bess Kargman’s critically acclaimed, award-winning documentary First Position, which follows a group of young ballet dancers as they endure personal sacrifice,  physical hardship and other unforeseen obstacles in order to compete in one of the most prestigious youth ballet competitions in the world, the Youth America Grand Prix. The film follows Aran Bell, Gaya Bommer Yemini, Micheala Deprince, Jules Jarvis Fogarty, Rebecca Houseknecht and Joan Sebastian Zamora as they defy the odds and attempt to forge their careers in the highly competitive world of ballet.

First Position enjoyed its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was promptly named the audience choice’s First Runner-Up for Best Documentary. Subsequently, the film won the Jury Prize at the San Francisco Doc Fest and the Audience Awards for Best Documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival, the Portland International Film Festival, and DOC NYC. Critics have been unanimous in their praise for the film: “This is a valentine to the art,” wrote Mary Pols of Time. “A compelling and emotionally involving film,” said Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. “These performers are so young, so serious, so full of dreams and so hard on themselves that it is difficult not to be moved by their striving.” David Edelstein of New York magazine added: “I found myself convinced that a child’s hopeful spirit can actually triumph over the physical world.”

First Position is scheduled to run through Saturday. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 pm Friday, and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Hanesbrand Theatre is located in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, 209 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem.

Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 336.747.1414 or visit the official website: www.rhodesartscenter.org/category/now-showing.

The official website for the film is: www.balletdocumentary.com. There’s no one in the world who makes movies the way they do at Troma — and that’s a fact.

Given its propensity for such low-budget, cult-friendly B-movies as The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Troma’s War, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD and the immortal Squeeze Play — which yours truly saw at the East Brunswick Drive-In in 1981 — Troma has (literally) carved out a cinematic niche like no other.

Since its inception 38 years ago, Troma founders Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz have made Troma a brand  name among film fanatics. Not everybody loves Troma, but nobody doesn’t know Troma!

To share the joy and the love, and to thank the loyal following that has kept Troma surviving and thriving all these years, the powers that be at Troma Entertainment have been streaming many of its movies for free on its YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/ Tromamovies/videos.

There you can experience — perhaps for the first time, perhaps for the 10th — such screen favorites as Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters, Rabid Grannies, Zombie Werewolves Attack, Zombie Island Massacre (starring one-time Congressional wife and Playboy model Rita Jenrette), Lucio Fulci’s The New Gladiators (starring Jared Martin and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson), Space Zombie Lunatics, Parts of the Family, Igor and the Lunatics, Screamplay, Meat Weed Madness (that’s the title, folks!), Farts of Darkness (just like Joseph Conrad, except it’s not…), Seduction of a Nerd, Hellblock 13, Skeleton Coast (with a star-powered action cast including Ernest Borgnine, Oliver Reed, Robert Vaughn and Herbert Lom), Dead Dudes in the House, Invasion of the Space Preachers, Killer Condom, Madigan’s Millions (“renowned” as Dustin Hoffman’s big-screen starring debut — although probably not by Hoffman), Rock ‘N’ Roll Space Patrol, Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell, Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator, Horror of the Hungry Humongous Hungan, Luther the Geek and many more… as if that illustrious line-up weren’t enough already!

Troma will periodically add new titles to its YouTube channel, all the better to quench the undying thirst of those “Troma-philes” who simply can’t get enough Troma in their lives. You know who you are….

For all the information about the comings and goings at Troma, you can also visit the official website: www.troma.com.

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