‘Dancing on Glass’ (also known as ‘Las Niñas de Cristal’) is a Spanish drama film directed by Jota Linares. It follows two young ballerinas as they navigate the complexities of life as a dancer. When Irene (María Pedraza) is selected to be the prima ballerina in an upcoming production of her dancing company, she begins a whirlwind friendship with newcomer Aurora (Paula Losada). As the two young women find comfort in each other, they face numerous challenges presented by the world they live in and isolate themselves.
The heartfelt and complex story is driven by the emotional bond between Irene and Aurora. However, the film ends without giving a clear answer about what happens to the women after a shocking and unexpected incident. If you are seeking an explanation about the ending of ‘Dancing on Glass,’ here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Dancing on Glass Plot Synopsis
In the opening moments of ‘Dancing on Glass,’ a ballerina named Maria jumps off a building top in New York. Irene is another young ballerina who works with a dancing company in Spain. It is revealed that Irene and Maria are a part of the same dancing company, and Maria was the prima ballerina for an upcoming production of ‘Giselle.’ After Maria’s untimely suicide, Irene is chosen as the new prima ballerina over Maria’s close friend, Ruth.
Meanwhile, a new dancer named Aurora joins the dancing company. Aurora’s mother is a former ballet dancer and wants to see her daughter fulfill her dreams. On the other hand, Irene’s family does not understand her decision to make a career in dancing and is skeptical of her life choices. Irene prepares for the challenges of being the lead dancer and immediately finds herself isolated from the rest of the group. At a party, Irene and Aurora have a conversation that sparks a friendship between the two. Soon, Aurora begins helping Irene with the pressures of being the lead dancer. Simultaneously, Irene helps Aurora overcome her social fears.
The two girls are invited to an underground theater by a handsome and charming young man named Jon. After the performance, Jon kisses Aurora, who falls in love with him. When Jon does not respond to Aurora’s calls, Irene encourages her friend to go see him in person. However, when Aurora arrives at the theater, she finds Jon kissing another girl. A heartbroken Aurora leaves only to end up in a car accident that threatens to end her dancing career.
After the accident, Aurora’s mother prohibits her from seeing Irene believing her to be a bad influence on Aurora. Meanwhile, Irene begins to crumble under the demands of director Norma. Norma also encourages Irene to isolate herself from everyone to focus on the upcoming opening night performance. She also believes that Aurora is a mere distraction for Irene and she is destined to be a great dancer. However, Irene and Aurora find a way to reunite and continue to revel in their unique bond. Nonetheless, the challenges of life as a dancer catch up to the two women. Whether they manage to overcome these challenges forms the rest of the plot.
Dancing on Glass Ending: Are Irene and Aurora Dead?
After a tumultuous preparation period, Irene is finally ready for the opening night. However, shortly before the event, she gets into a spat with her co-dancer after he accidentally drops her during practice. The incident highlights that Irene is at the peak of her mental instability, and she will crack under the pressure of being the lead dancer. Moreover, she believes that everyone around her, including her own family, is rooting for her to fail and does not wish to see her succeed. Nonetheless, Irene finds some solace in Aurora, who grounds the lead dancer.
As the narrative progresses, the parallels between Maria and Irene become evident, and viewers are forced to wonder whether Irene will suffer the same fate as Maria under the tyrant-like behavior of Norma. However, towards the end, viewers learn that Maria died of her own guilt and not because of pressure from Norma. Moreover, Norma only forms a part of the psychological challenges that Irene is facing due to her position as the prima ballerina. Her lack of self-belief is pressuring Irene, and her fears and insecurities about failure are projected on those around her. Thus, Irene faces a stern test as she steps onto the stage to perform during the opening night.
However, Aurora is present backstage during the performance and helps Irene focus on the performance. Irene delivers a scintillating performance that receives heaps of praise from the audience during the first act. When Irene and Aurora reunite backstage during the interval, Norma spots them and asks Aurora to leave as she could be a distraction for Irene. Norma berates Aurora and claims that the young woman will never be able to dance again following her accident. In a fit of rage, Aurora stabs Norma, and then Irene pushes her into a wall causing Norma’s death.
In the end, Irene finishes the second act of her performance and receives thunderous applause from the audience. However, as soon as the performance ends, Irene flees the theater with Aurora, and the two head to the top of the building. In the final moments, viewers see Irene and Aurora standing on the edge of the terrace, followed by shots of them dancing together. The film ends on a freeze-frame of Irene and Aurora dancing and enjoying each other’s company.
Earlier in the movie, Aurora teaches Irene about her “safe” place, an imaginary spot where she travels during her performances. She explains that no one can harm her in her safe place and decides to share the place with Irene. Irene openly accepts the concept, and the two women often spend time in this imaginary space where the pressures of life as professional dancers and external and internal expectations cannot hurt them. During the last scene, viewers see the duo in their safe place. The movie ending on this note implies that they have permanently migrated to this place.
Like Maria, whose psychological stress led her to commit the horrendous act of letting her mother die, Irene and Aurora are responsible for the death of Norma. Similarly, the duo’s guilt over the situation serves as a breaking point for their psychological stress, and they likely jump to their deaths out of guilt. Thus, they are finally free of all the burdens they are carrying and reside peacefully in their safe space for the rest of eternity.
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