Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Ballerina

Go To
"We should never give up on our dreams."

Ballerina is a French-Canadian animated movie from Entertainment One. It was co-directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin. It features the voice talents of Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, and Carly Rae Jepsen. The film was released on December 14, 2016 and was released in America on August 2017 under the title Leap!

Set in 1879, the film follows poor orphan girl Félicie Milliner, who aspires to become a ballerina. Together with her best friend, young inventor Victor, Félicie leaves her orphanage in Brittany and travels to Paris, where she assumes a different identity and becomes a dance student at the Paris Opera. Joined by Victor and the mysterious caretaker of the Paris Opera, Odette, Félicie aspires to follow her dreams and become the greatest ballerina in the opera.

November 2017, following after Lionsgate's acquisition of Starz (and its video distributor), Ballerina was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Not to be confused with the 2023 South Korean film Ballerina.

Ballerina provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: No adult in the movie does anything to help Félicie about Camille and Regine. This because during this time era, the wealthy were given undeserved respect.
  • An Aesop: "Dreams, however big or small, only come true if you work hard and don't give up."
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Victor has a transparent crush on Félicie, who is too distracted by her own infatuation with male ballet dancer Rudy to notice.
  • All Work vs. All Play: Camille and Rudy respectively fit this nicely in regards to how they approach ballet. Camille's dancing is flawless in technique, but cold and mechanical because she has no passion to put in it. Rudy is also an unparalleled dancer, but he thinks someone who is truly talented need not bother with practice, a sentiment he tries to convince Félicie of.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Victor and Félicie in the French trailer.
  • Alpha Bitch: Camille.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has an original ending theme titled "Félicies", sung by Félicie's Japanese voice actress, Tao Tsuchiya.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American title, trailer, and poster art all put extra emphasis on Victor and his inventions, to the point of making it look like an action/adventure movie rather than a ballet movie.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The movie takes place in France during 1879 and the trailer shows the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty being built. Commission for both did not start and finish until the 1880's.
    • One of Félicie's outfits in the film incorporates jean shorts. Never mind that this wasn't a popular style among girls her age back then (and wouldn't be available, period, until at least the 1950s), there was a near-century-old restriction on women wearing trousers in place in Paris at the time.
    • Never mind that The Nutcracker, the show the Paris Opera is producing, wouldn't be made for just over a dozen years, it didn't leave its native Russia until 1934, when it premiered in England, and the version produced by the Paris Opera Ballet as depicted in the film wasn't produced until 1967 nor did the Paris premiere thereof take place until 1985, just over a century after the story takes place.
    • The Statue of Liberty is shown the green color familiar to modern audiences, but it was built from copper and attained the green patina only after decades of standing in New York harbor.
    • The film also includes a 20th century motorcycle that M. Luteau rides to pursue Félicie and Victor. These did not exist until 1885.
  • Arc Words: "Why do you dance?"
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Mérante's question to both Félicie and Camille ("Why do you dance?"). Camille seems confident as she answers first, but is humbled to realize the only reason she dances at all isn't because she has a passion for dancing, but because her mother told her to.
  • Ash Face: Played with. In one scene in the trailer, one of Victor's inventions backfires and spews smoke everywhere. Upon closer inspection, he even has a partially bald eyebrow from what must have been a past and much more dangerous malfunction.
  • Betty and Veronica: Victor is the Betty and Rudy the Veronica to Felicie's Archie.
  • Big Bad: Regine La Haut is the mother of Camille (who is The Rival to Félicie) and ruthlessly pushes her to win.
  • Big "NO!": Félicie says this when Camille destroys her music box.
  • Buffy Speak: Félicie refers to la grand jeté as "that crazy jumpy thing.”
  • Bungling Inventor: Victor. His contraption is finally perfected just in time for the climax.
  • The Bully: Camille.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Chekhov's Gun: The chicken/pigeon wings that Victor builds.
  • City of Adventure: Paris, for Victor and Félicie.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Heroic characters are associated with red, like Félicie's hair, Victor and Mérante's vests, Odette's bodice, and Mathurin's scarf. By contrast, antagonists and people who negatively influence Félicie wear green, as seen with Régine and Camille's dresses, Rudy's vest, and the Mother Superior's greyish-green habit.
  • Curtains Match the Windows: Victor is both brown haired and brown eyed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Regine La Haut attempted to kill Felicie when she defeats her daughter and is chosen to do the Nutcracker.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: With every audition, Mérante eliminates a girl in his class to pick who will get the coveted role of Clara in The Nutcracker. Félicie would've been sent packing the first day if one of the other girls had not gotten stuck performing the splits.
  • Driving Question: Odette presents one to Félicie: "Why do you dance?" Félicie's subconscious appears to ask the same question with a recurring dream about her music box. Once she gets to the end of said dream, (actually a memory of her mother from infancy,) Félicie finds the answer: Dancing is, and always has been, who she is.
  • Dumb Blonde: Rudy is a gorgeous blond, but he's also a spoiled airhead who doesn't take anything seriously.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Rudy.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Odette is training Félicie, she asks Félicie to leap up and touch the bell hanging from a branch, and then land without splashing the water on the ground, which Félicie at first believes is impossible. But then, as Félicie shoos away some birds, she notices a feather fall to the ground tip first before slowly settling down — and this gives Félicie a breakthrough as to how she can complete the task without splashing the water.
  • Final Boss: For most of the movie, Félicie's dream is opposed by her insecurities and rivalry with Camille. After overcoming them, Regine Le Haut attacks and tries to kill Félicie the night before the recital.
  • Foil:
    • Camille to Félicie — whereas Félicie is a good-natured, but poor, orphan who is passionate about dancing, Camille is cold, ruthless, wealthy, and cares less about dancing and more for the fame it brings.
    • Also Regine to Félicie's mother — Félicie's mother was also a passionate dancer with a kind heart, while Regine on the other hand is a high class monster who did not teach Camille to dance with passion.
  • Food as Bribe: Camille got her into ballet class because her mother's restaurant makes the best ribs in town. Merante, the school's choreographer, who claims to be a vegetarian, makes a point to single out Camille as the only girl who didn't earn her spot.
  • Foreign Fanservice: Rudy hails from Russia, and is widely desired by the female ballet students.
  • Funny Background Event: Depending on your interpretation, the part where you can see one of the dancers being carried off with her legs still in the splits position can be considered this.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Victor is an aspiring inventor; one of his inventions (as shown in the trailer) is a winged contraption that allows him to fly.
  • The Ghost: Victor gets a job as an assistant to THE Gustave Eiffel, but the engineer himself is never seen. The inventions seen in his atelier imply that he's a Mad Scientist and a Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Graceful Loser: When Nora is disqualified as one of the three remaining finalists, she wishes Félicie good luck and wants her to place first. Camille also becomes this near the end when she finally realizes that Félicie is indeed the better dancer; Camille thus suggests that Félicie should be given the role of Clara.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Both Félicie and Victor are this.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When Félicie is able to successfully answer the "Why do you dance?" question, Camille realizes that Félicie really is the better dancer, so Camille lets Félicie have the part of Clara and becomes nicer from that point on.
  • Heroic BSoD: Félicie undergoes this after she loses to Camille in the final dance competition and is promptly returned to the orphanage by Regine against her will.
  • Hollywood Costuming: At some points Félicie is shown in shorts and Camille in a black leotard and pink leg warmers, both of which look too modern for 1879.
  • Humble Pie: After being beaten by Félicie in a dance-off, Camille acknowledges her as the superior dancer and happily gives her the role of Clara.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: Victor claims to have learned everything about chickens in order to make his first flying machine, the Chicken Wings. Félicie points out that he missed one detail: chickens don't fly.
  • Ironic Name: Odette is German for wealth/prosperity, but she doesn't appear to have much money, being the the opera caretaker. Justified in that she was once a ballet dancer before her accident.
  • Irony: Félicie only has but one memory of her mother from infancy, but that one memory comes to teach her more about why she wants to dance than Regine did Camille (who brought her up her whole life to only dance for fame).
  • Kick the Dog: After seeing Odette lose her daughter figure, Regine doesn't hesitate to add insult to injury by callously tell her she's fired from her job.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Camille acts like a jerkass to Félicie.
  • Left the Background Music On: When the candidates for the role of Clara is reduced to three, dramatic music begins swelling as the announcement of who will get disqualified next draws closer. Then Merante requests the music to stop. Cue the piano player apologizing and closing the lid of the piano.
  • Liar Revealed: Félicie lies about being Camille to get herself into expensive ballet classes. When the façade is inevitably broken, she is spared any punishment.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Victor, Félicie, and Odette. Justified due to them being poor.
  • Love Triangle: between Felicie, Victor, and Rudolph.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: During the story's climax, Camille's mother tries to kill Félicie and somehow hopes to pass her victim's death as accidental.
  • The Mentor: Odette functions as this to Félicie.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: By realizing the point of ballet is dancing from the heart and not just being the best at it, Félicie overcomes her insecurities, and therefore her fear of Camille. She proves it by taking back her music box when Camille tries to throw it again, and challenging her to a dance battle and beating her.
  • One-Word Title
  • Orphanage of Fear: Subverted; there is nothing overly bad about Félicie and Victor's orphanage so much as the complete lack of hope for a better life it represents and the Mother Superior who refuses to encourage dreams. The supervisor Mr. Luteau only appears mean because he is fed up with the kids' escape attempts. When Félicie returns to the orphanage in disgrace, Luteau can't stomach seeing her so miserable, and gives her a ride back to Paris to make up with Odette and Victor.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Félicie possesses a small music box of a ballerina.
  • Pinocchio Nose: Victor knows when Félicie is lying because when she does, her nose quivers.
  • Redheaded Hero: Félicie.
  • Rich Bitch: Regine La Haut. Camille to a lesser extent, though it's clear she gets it from her mother.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The two boys vying for Félicie's affections are Victor, her dorky lifelong friend and fellow orphan, and Rudy, a ballet prodigy whom Félicie claims is from nobility.
  • The Rival: Camille is this to Félicie.
  • Scenery Porn: The trailer shows some stunning shots of Paris.
  • Shaking the Rump: While putting on her ballerina dress, Félicie does this.
  • Shown Their Work: The filmmakers referenced Paris Opera Ballet stars Jérémie Belingard and Aurélie Dupont by key frame animating their dance moves to create realistic ballet choreography onscreen.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Félicie.
  • Shout-Out: Odette's name is a reference to Swan Lake.
  • Sleep Cute: Victor and Félicie on the train to Paris. Also overlaps with Comforting Comforter.
  • Stage Mom: Camille's mother, Regine Le Haut, takes this to a downright disturbing degree. The machines she makes her daughter practise in look more like instruments of torture than ballet exercise equipment. After Félicie wins the role, Regine plans to kill her and make it seem an accident.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm scream can be heard when Monsignor Luteau crashes into a stump during his pursuit of Félicie and Victor at the start of the film.
  • Straight to the Pointe: Ironically for a film otherwise faithful in its depiction of ballet (apart from Anachronism Stew in its depiction of the show being produced by the Paris Opera), Félicie is guilty of this, wearing pointe shoes on her first day and dancing en pointe in shoes not really suited for pointework.
  • Suggestive Collision: A G-rated version happens between Victor and Félicie on the train.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Félicie may love to dance, but passion is no substitute for practice. With no prior training to speak of, she makes a fool of herself in dance class until Odette takes the orphan girl under her wing.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Camille and Félicie.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: All of Victor's winged contraptions.
  • Those Two Girls: Félicie's classmates at the ballet Nora and Dora.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: Camille throws Félicie's music box, an heirloom from her all but stated to be dead mother, out of her window just because she could, apparently. Victor fixes it later, but this act still cements her as a huge Jerkass like her mother until Character Development sets in, anyway. She even tries to do it a second time after it’s fixed! Thankfully, Félicie's on guard and privy to her Tragic Keepsake destroying shenanigans and stops her the second time.
  • Time for Plan B: Victor tells Félicie that he has a brilliant plan to escape from the orphanage, a plan so "A" that they don't need a plan B. When things start going wrong, the two start running together, him shouting that they need to activate plan B. Of course, she has no idea what this is.
  • Training from Hell: Camille's mother forces her to do this.
  • Training Montage: Félicie preparing for the ballet auditions.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Victor tells Félicie that he became Gustave Eiffel's apprentice by braving the streets of Paris after hours, being welcomed into a Breton bar, having some dignified laughs with Eiffel's assistant Mathurin, until they decided to head back to Eiffel's atelier. Besides the bar and where he got the job from, not one word of this story is true.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Odette sounds too young and Victor sounds too old in the English dub.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Odette's method of training Félicie in ballet consists of doing the Le Hauts housework in outlandish ways. It's mostly out of necessity because A) they are dirt poor with no access to real equipment, and B) the chores still need to get done.
  • Wimp Fight: Victor and Rudy's fight over Félicie boils down to a wimpy slap fight.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Regine tries to murder Félicie after she gets the part of Clara in The Nutcracker, instead of Camille. She also hits Victor in the back of the head with a heavy tool.
  • Younger Than They Look: It is confirmed that Victor, Félicie, and her fellow ballerinas are eleven, but they look like they could be between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
  • You Need a Breath Mint: Félicie says this to Victor.
  • Youthful Freckles: Félicie has these.

Alternative Title(s): Leap