Dancing on Glass (Las Niñas de Cristal) is a Spanish film about two ballet dancers who share an intimate bond, as they struggle with their career as ballet dancers and their personal lives. Dancing on Glass has been released on Netflix and is 139 minutes long. The main character, Irene, becomes the main dancer in the National Ballet Company and has to prepare for their upcoming showcase of Giselle. Dancing on Glass has been directed by Jota Linares.
Joining the company is Aurora, who seems a little fragile and introvert. Their choreographer, Norma, is a strict perfectionist who does not let any of the dancers off the hook until they have delivered their best, no matter how much it affects them negatively. Add to this the recent suicide of their former main ballerina, Maria, and we have the typical recipe for a film based on ballet.
Dancing on Glass another Black Swan?
At this point, it seems like there can not be any film that addresses ballet dancing which is not about an unhealthy obsession with perfection, body image issues, jealousy and toxic behaviour. Dancing on Glass follows the journey of Irene and her friendship with newcomer, Aurora. Quickly enough, they become quite close and start sharing a special bond which not only helps Irene become a better dancer but also happier. To escape her loneliness, Aurora has created a make-believe world where she escapes to while dancing. This other world becomes a space of escape for both friends as they cope with the demands of their profession, which are quite overwhelming.
Dancing on Glass has a very sinister aura, a constant feeling that something is wrong follows the audience throughout. It is ironic, for a film about a dance form as beautiful as ballet, the film is quite far from it. Although the scenes with dance sequences are quite beautiful, especially the one towards the end when Irene actually performs Giselle.
Maria Pedraza has done an exquisite job of portraying Irene, especially her dance is beautiful and must have taken a lot of hard work. Silvia Kal, who plays Aurora, is quite haunting as a troubled 20-something obsessed with her friend. Other actors have also done their parts quite convincingly, especially Mona Martinez who plays Norma.
Apart from the performances, another high point of Dancing on Glass is its tone, which perfectly captures the haunted aura created after the death of Maria. This feeling follows both Norma who seems to be slightly responsible for her death, and Irene who has taken her place and could very well be mirroring Maria’s life too. This fear is expressed repeatedly when different characters express their doubts about the attitude Norma is taking towards the upcoming performance and how it affects Irene.
Repetitive but Captivating
Despite its old themes and stale plot, Dancing on Glass does a good job of captivating the audience’s attention through tightly stitched scenes and fast paced story line. Whatever the plot lacks, the writing tries hard to make up for. But the lack of any novelty is quite stark, as we see the weird relationship between Irene and Aurora culminate into something quite unpalatable. The darkness of the plot seems a bit unnecessary and forced, something that could have been avoided. It is time movies about ballet delve into new topics to portray other than obsessive training routines and unhealthy behaviour patterns.
Although it is true that ballet as a profession is hard and requires years of training to have a decent career. It is also true that there are body image issues and health issues with ballet dancers, but there must be other topics that filmmakers can pursue. Whatever maybe the case, Dancing on Glass fails to present the audience with any new point of view and film watching experience.
With so many themes to follow through, like the obsessiveness, jealousy, strained family relationships, stress on perfection, it becomes overwhelming for the audience to make sense of it all. Especially, with the culmination of the plot, which has no build up through the film, we end up questioning the motivation behind making the film. Watch Dancing on Glass, if nothing else, its exquisite dance performances and amazing portrayals by the main actors. You can watch Dancing on Glass on Netflix.
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