Dancing On Glass, the spoiler: do the girls die in the ending?

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This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in Jota Linares’s movie Dancing On Glass, revealing its meaning, symbols and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.

Dancing On Glass is a Netflix production released in April 2022. An engaging vision that will be appreciated to those who loved Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan years ago. The film follows the events of a group of dancers belonging to the most important dance company in Spain. The young dancers have to deal with a great pressure, fueled by the harsh teaching methods of the director of the company, and several things happen in the rehearsal period that precedes the first show.

The plot

The film opens with the image of a young dancer jumping off the roof of a New York building. Later we will discover that she is Maria, the principal dancer of the company. Her story is revealed in the second part of the film: Maria is very good and cares a lot about her role, but her mother is terminally ill with cancer, so she asks the director to give her some time to take care of her mom. The period of absence is prolonged and the director explains that she cannot wait more than four months. Under pressure from her situation, one night Maria lets her mother die without helping her, in the grip of immobility. She will commit suicide out of guilt for what she did.

Irene is chosen to replace her, a choice that takes everyone by surprise, given that the most titled for her replacement Myrtha, a great friend of Maria. Irene immediately finds herself hated by the whole company, but she makes a strong friendship with Aurora, the latest arrival, a very talented dancer with whom she establishes a very close relationship. A bond is built between the two and Irene begins to believe she can dance really well only if Aurora is close to her. However, the balance is broken at the end of the first act: Aurora receives a disappointment of love and, upset, is hit by a car in the night, breaking her tibia.

In the second act Aurora remains isolated at home, with her mother protecting her from any contact, and Irene finds herself in difficulty, with poor performance during rehearsals, a pressure that is overwhelming her and the absence of Aurora that weighs heavily. Eventually Irene visits Aurora at her house and the two manage to convince her mother to allow them to see each other. Aurora promises Irene that she will attend the premiere of the ballet, which forms the film’s ending.

The ending of the movie, explained

During the entire film, two major forces are driving Irene’s life: the great pressure linked to the role of principal dancer, which becomes a matter of life or death, as explained several times by Norma, the director of the company, and the strong bond with Aurora, on which the quality of her performances depends. In the ending of the movie, at the premiere of the opera, the two forces come into direct conflict: Aurora is behind the scenes supporting Irene with her presence, and Irene is dancing in a wonderful way. Norma discovers Aurora and orders her to go away, at the same time revealing something that her mother had kept hidden from her so far: she will never dance again, after breaking her tibia. Irene, in a break from the ballet, sees the two arguing and tries to defend Aurora, asking Norma to make her stay, but Norma is adamant. According to Norma, the role of prima ballerina requires isolation and solitude, so there is no place for Aurora. During the fight, Irene pushes Norma, who loses her balance and hits her head. Norma dies in front of the eyes of Irene and Aurora.

Aurora invites Irene to finish the ballet, willing to take responsibility for what happened. Irene concludes the opera, to the enthusiastic applause of the audience. But at the moment of thanking the audience, instead of joining the rest of the company, she escapes, takes Aurora by hand and leads her to the roof of the building. Aurora’s mother, desperately looking for her daughter, discovers them standing on the ledge, holding the hands, and she remains petrified, unable to stop them. The film ends like this: it is clear that the two jump off the ledge, committing suicide together.

The reasons are clear: Irene is perfectly aware that the perfect performance of the premiere cannot be repeated. Norma’s body will be discovered, Aurora will end up in prison and the two will not be able to remain together. Irene will no longer be able to dance so well. And for Irene, as well as for Aurora, ballet is life. This was instilled in the minds of all members of the company by Norma herself, who she openly believes that art must be obsession, “otherwise it’s just entertainment, and for that there are zoos.”

Both for Irene, who will no longer be able to dance well without Aurora, and for Aurora, who has just discovered that she can never dance again and who will soon be imprisoned for murder, life therefore no longer makes sense. The two are aware of this and the gesture of ending it together seems the most natural conclusion. The gaze of Aurora’s mother in looking at the scene is enigmatic: for her too, dancing is an obsession on which her entire life depends, so as spectator one has the feeling that in the last scene her mother realizes that Aurora cannot really dance any longer, and therefore the thought that life no longer makes sense assails her too. In her desperate immobility, is it possible to see a sick blessing on the suicide of her daughter and Irene? This is left to the spectator’s interpretation.