LEAP! encourages kids to chase their dreams with passion. But that’s not all it teaches them. Here are three more valuable lessons that stand out to me.
A few months ago, my oldest daughter Olivia had her very first fitting for ballet pointe shoes.
It was a momentous occasion.
That is, until she had to sew the ribbons on … all by herself. Even though she had ample experience with a needle and thread, this particular task proved harder than it looked. Giving up would have been easy.
But quitting isn’t something Olivia does, at least not permanently. She may walk away for a bit, but when she sets her mind to something, it eventually gets done.
We ended up asking an older, more experienced pointe dancer for help. After a fifteen-minute ribbon sewing tutorial with her, Olivia had the confidence and know-how to independently sew her ribbons on.
For my four daughters, ballet – and the arts, in general – has been a valuable life teacher. They’ve learned discipline, hard work, and commitment.
So when I was offered the opportunity to take my dancers to see the new animated ballet-centered film, LEAP! I “leaped” at the chance.
The Adventure of LEAP!
Set in 1879, LEAP! is the story of eleven-year-old Félicie and her best friend Victor. These two orphans have grown up together in an orphanage in rural France.
After many failed run-away attempts to Paris, the pair finally succeeds in escaping the orphanage and reaching the City of Lights. It’s a place where Gustave Eiffel is still constructing his famous tower, as well as secretly working on the Statue of Liberty. As someone who’s been to modern-day Paris, I felt that the filmmakers did a fantastic job of capturing the magic and charm of the city. And, their decision to place the story in a historical era where much transformation is happening in Paris works perfectly with the film’s storyline.
Once in Paris, both Félicie and Victor set out to pursue their dreams. She longs to be a classical ballerina and train at the Opera Ballet School, while he aspires to be a great inventor.
The rest of the film takes us on their journey. We see their victories and defeats, their joy and their sadness.
And, while Olivia and I did have to suspend our disbelief on how quickly Félicie not only doned her first pair of pointe shoes, but seemingly danced in them with ease and comfort, we were enchanted with the film none the less.
LEAP! and Its Best Teachable Moments for Kids
There’s no doubt that LEAP! encourages kids to chase their dreams and do so with passion. Yet, this isn’t the only message kids will walk away with from LEAP!. Here are three valuable lessons that stood out to me.
1. The Value of Hard Work in LEAP!
It doesn’t take long for Félicie to realize that a desire to dance and a talent for it isn’t enough. She also has to be willing to work hard. In a scene reminiscent of something from Karate Kid, we witness this understanding sink in.
Later, there’s another moment where Félicie chooses to go out the night before an audition, rather than practice and rest. We end up seeing how her lack of hard work negatively affects her dancing opportunities.
When asked why they chose ballet to be such a large part of this film, producer Laurent Zeitoun shared:
“… involvement in classic dance is an endless combat, including a combat against your own self: it requires so much rigor, self-sacrifice, and suffering, that giving it up amounts to total defeat. The discipline remains a kind of Mount Everest in the world of sports and the arts. If you’re not solidly attached to your dream, you’ll give up…”
In other words, ballet demonstrates why hard work matters so much when it comes to our dreams.
In LEAP!, kids dramatically witness how hard work – or the lack of it – contribute directly to both successes and failures. They’re inspired to work hard when it comes to pursuing the things that they want.
2. The Importance of Honesty in LEAP!
When Félicie attempts to gain access to the Opera Ballet School honestly, her efforts fail. She’s thrown out into the streets before she can even ask about taking classes.
In an act of desperation and anger, she decides to steal the identity of a rich girl and pose as her at the school. For awhile, her deception works.
However, her lies are soon discovered and threaten to steal all for which she’s worked. While the kindness of others delays the loss of her dream, her dishonesty later catches up with her and results in her return to the orphanage.
In LEAP!, kids watch as dishonesty is discovered. While Félicie ultimately gets what she wants, she first faces hurt and disappointment as a result of her lies. This aspect of LEAP! provides the opportunity for us as parents to talk to our kids about the idea of “The ends don’t justify the means.”
3. The Beauty of Faithful Friendship in LEAP!
The friendship between Félicie and Victor is a fun one to watch … at first. They support and encourage one another.
Yet, after Félicie begins training at the Opera Ballet School, she quickly becomes distracted with a charming male ballet dancer. To her, he has all of the class and pose that Victor lacks. Before long, she’s opting to spend time with him, which leaves Victor feeling hurt and ignored.
Félicie later comes to see that this dancer isn’t as wonderful as she first thought he was. She finds herself having to seek out and apologize to Victor.
I will say that the one aspect of the girl-boy friendships in this movie which I wasn’t so keen on was the boys’ desire for romance. To me, eleven seemed a young age for rooftop dates and attempted kissing. However, I think that perhaps the romance element was added in an effort to get laughs over the awkwardness of it.
Romance aside, in LEAP!, kids are reminded that being faithful to their friends is important. The film also models for them how to apologize and reconcile when they’ve hurt a friend.
Make LEAP! Your Next Family Film
LEAP! is a fun, feel-good family film. While I’m not sure whether it’ll hold the attention of boys or not, my ballet-dancing girls and I enjoyed it a lot.
Not only was it enchanting and engaging, but it inspired my kids to remember the value of hard work, honesty, and faithful friends. And that makes this mama happy.
If you enjoyed my thoughts on LEAP!, here are a couple other films I’ve written about over the years. Perhaps they’ll make great at-home movie nights for you and your family.