TuTu Much! Follows nine female ballet students through the audition process for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. These girls are pushed to their physical and emotional limits over the course of the four-week summer school, which serves as an audition for the RWBS year-round professional division. They compete with friends, classmates, and roommates, but most intensely with themselves. They’ve taken to heart the message that dance is hard work and not for the faint of spirit, the indifferent, or the undisciplined. They’re regular kids with big, serious ambitions, and they handle themselves with poise where there are careers are concerned. To balance the solemnity of the studio, there’s plenty of levity in endearing shots of the girls video chatting with family, mock-fighting with water sprayers, and raiding the school vending machines.
This film is an honest look into one school’s selection process, and the nine young subjects, their teachers, and their families are all very candid about the ups and downs of professional ballet training. The film hit selected movie theaters across Canada in 2010, giving the general public a peek into this foreign, mostly inaccessible world. Producers Vonnie Von Helmolt and Merit Jensen Carr and Director Elise Swerhone deserve kudos for presenting to the public a much more realistic look at professional dance training—what it actually takes to “make it”—than any American TV program ever has.
TuTu Much! made me root for all parties involved. I wanted these young women to succeed. I felt for their parents facing tough financial and family decisions. I sympathized with the teachers’ demands that every student bring her full effort into the work. Though most appealing to a dance audience, the film is important in a broader sense because it presents a set of highly driven young people, something that seems to be increasingly rare. It’s mostly straight talk about the sometimes harsh realities of the dance world, with just enough sweetness and charm to be satisfying.