When it comes to dance movies, most dancers have been seriously disappointed in what’s out there. Ballroom dancers in particular.
We’re part of this worldwide community of millions. We know how exciting the world of ballroom dancing really is. The drive to improve. The drama of men and women working together amidst all the differences in how they deal with challenges, solutions, stress, victory and all the other emotions. The physical effort that keeps most dancers fit. The sexual tensions. We also know how the challenges of daily life melt away when you get on the dance floor. So why is it that ballroom dance movies never seem to get it right?
Perhaps it’s just that most of the people who create them are not from that world. So how could they understand?
The number of dance movies that actually have been satisfying is a small list. Singing in the Rain. Most of the Fred and Ginger movies. An American in Paris with Gene Kelly. Holiday Inn. Anything Goes. Daddy Long Legs. Silk Stockings. More recently, Strictly Ballroom and the original Japanese version of Shall We Dance (the Hollywood version with Richard Gere didn’t have the same charm). Then pretty much nothing since except for Mad Hot Ballroom (a documentary) and Antonio Banderas’ reasonably decent Take the Lead. Instead of treating us to something that soars with the energy we all know and love, most other dance movies are dismal, depressing things that are more embarrassing than inspiring.
So I was thrilled to learn that the hit Broadway play “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” by award-winning Richard Alfieri will be opening in a movie theatre near you on December 12.
Alfieri’s play originally opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theater. It has since been translated into 12 languages and opened in over 20 countries. The movie version features Gena Rowlands, Cheyenne Jackson, Rita Moreno, Julian Sands, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Anthony Zerbe, Simon Miller and Jacki Weaver. The film is directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman.
The story is a touching and human, yet madcap comedy about a formidable retired woman, Lily Harrison (Gena Rowlands), who hires an acerbic dance instructor, Michael Minetti (Cheyenne Jackson), to give her private dance lessons — one per week for six weeks — in her Florida condo. What begins as an incompatible relationship blossoms into an intimate friendship as these two people from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and joys while dancing the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Contemporary Dance. By the final lesson, Lily shares her most closely guarded secret and he shares his greatest gifts, his loyalty and compassion.
The trailer looks charming and appears to respect the ballroom dance world and what it brings to the human experience.View Movie Trailer
What’s your favorite ballroom dancing-themed motion picture? Share your thoughts using the comment area below. I’m planning to write reviews of some of the great ballroom dance movies.