Boris Fishkin is a scrawny 14-year-old struggling as an unexceptional student
at the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in 1986 Moscow. His headmistress assures the class, perestroika is not operative—students will cleave to tradition with unforgiving rigor. Nevertheless, staff and fellow students seem to be grudgingly tolerate Fishkin for now. Meanwhile, helping an older boy with black market sales of Soviet kitsch to tourists in Red Square, Fishkin works to support his adoring grandparents (and his loving but distracted single mother, who sends him out whenever one of her gentlemen friends arrives). Then a chance encounter with Mikhail Baryshnikov on a bootleg VHS leads Fishkin to a life-changing realization: The great dancer and notorious defector must surely be his own father! Fishkin, in turn, must be a great dancer himself, in potential anyway. But is Fishkin really the Russian Jewish Billy Elliot? The answer may surprise, as director Dmitry Povolotsky and a terrific cast affectionately reconstruct life in the last years of the Soviet Union for this warm and charming comedy of underdogs, patrimonies artistic and otherwise and new beginnings.