Is 'Dancing On Glass' One Of The Best Movie Dramas On Netflix?

Dancing on Glass Las Ninas de Cristals Israel Juanjo Almeina Irene Marรญa Pedraza Netflix
Manolo Pavรณn / Netflix

“Dancing on Glass” (“Las niรฑas de cristal”) is a movie boiling with mesmeric fervor that refuses to shatter. Ballet movies comprise a little populated sub-genre that explores the extraordinary power of its dancers, their iron-fisted resolve, and the stunning silk glove that contains it. This Spanish Netflix original grips and grapples with its subject matter to spellbinding results.

“Art must be an obsession, otherwise it’s not art, it’s entertainment.”

-This extraordinarily thought-provoking quote from the head of the company in “Dancing on Glass” sums up the movie, and practitioners of ballet.

The story centers on Irene (Marรญa Pedraza, “Money Heist”), a talented and driven ballerina at an elite dance company. Alone and isolated from her family by her alien passion for ballet, Irene is somewhat seeking someone to connect with on it. As the highly-anticipated production for Giselle begins, Irene strikes up a friendship with the similarly isolated Aurora (Paula Losada). “Dancing on Glass” hints there may be more to the pair’s connection.

Their bond has a romantic undercurrent, and the sexual tension is self-evident. However, this portion of the movie remains rather ambiguous yet bubbling with potential. The dangling story thread means it is up to the audience to determine what is truly going on between them. Whatever its nature, Irene and Aurora’s connection continues to build amid the backdrop of the high-pressure storm that is the ballet, Giselle.

“Dancing on Glass” melds dreamlike visuals with the rigorous realism of what it takes to be a ballet dancer. Like the moody “Black Swan,” it primarily touches on the relationship ballerinas delicately dance with perfection and each other. Like the breathtaking “Bolshoi,” it also tells a captivating tale that rings with profound truth about ballet, those who love (absolutely love) it and pursue it.

If you know anything regarding ballet dancing, it is that those who pursue the art form are far from fragile. Despite their delicate movements, flowing arms, and careful steps, therein lies a tremendous strength. They have the willpower few possess to put their bodies through literal torment in pursuit of beauty.

Few are able to arrive at this elite level, and “Dancing on Glass” more or less explains why that is. It is not for the weak of heart or those shy of will. For those who practice, love, and live for ballet, this passion will often define them. This is said by someone who considers ballet the “first love” of my life. 

For me, ballet has shaped and contextualized every relationship afterward. Too much to get into here. “Dancing on Glass” brings many of those memories back even though the characters it centers on are way older than I was during my ballet days. The ballet dancers in the Netflix drama are living the dream I once wanted to realize. 

There are realities to that dream. The harshness of certain teachers/company leaders, the petty competition between fellow ballet dancers, and the grueling physical dedication it requires. Nothing looks more fragile yet requires more strength. Ballet is the foundation for figure skating, proper figure skating. Why the latter has not gotten its “Center Stage,” “Bolshoi,” or “Dancing on Glass” is anyone’s guess. Figure skating and its drama deserve it.

Hopefully, director and co-screenwriter Jota Linares can do one. What Linares and fellow screenwriter, Jorge Naranjo, conjure with “Dancing on Glass” does not break. Accompanied by the beguiling performances of its captivating stars, the movie is a dizzying dance that will not be forgotten. It is one of the best dramas on Netflix, and already one of the best of the year.