So I'm taking a beginning Latin Ballroom class this semester. So far I've learned a rumba routine, but have yet to learn correct hip action. Anyway, Latin is the most interesting ballroom for me to watch (oh, the passion), and movies are a big reason why I find it so attractive. So here are some movies that have inspired my love of (at least watching) ballroom dance.
1. Dance With Me--Probably the only Vanessa Williams movie I've ever enjoyed watching. She plays a struggling competitive ballroom dancer. Some adorable guy named Rafael (played by Chayanne) comes to the United States from Cuba to find his father. His father happens to own a dance studio where Vanessa Williams teaches. They meet, Rafael's fascinated, they go to a club, she's embarrassed, blah, blah, blah, adorable interaction with Vanessa's child, Rafael teaches her how to feel the music, Vanessa gets back together with old partner, daddy issues, dance competition, reconciliation. The point is, Rafael is adorable and smiley and really hot. I would like to dance with him.
I tried to find a good clip to exemplify this film, but the trailer does the best job at displaying the formulaic fantasticness that is Dance With Me:
2. Strictly Ballroom--Australia in 1992 combined with the kitsch of the ballroom world with a heavy sprinkling of Baz Luhrmann craziness = a fun and extremely theatrical movie. With accents. Paul Mercurio plays Scott Hastings, the son of ballroom champions who never got the title. Let's just say he has nice body and at one point angry dances in a wifebeater*. Fran is a frumpy girl taking beginning courses at the dance studio that Scott's controlling mother owns. Scott wants to do his own moves, but scandal ensues in the dance world and with his family. Eventually, Fran and Scott become partners. A makeover and several dance montages later (involving Fran's very Spanish family), they've started falling in love, but will the championship get in the way?
This scene is just deliciously romantic. Fran and Scott are dancing behind the scenes of a dance competition, only to be discovered by everyone:
3. Mad Hot Ballroom--This is a sweet documentary about elementary school kids learning ballroom dance. It follows a few different public schools preparing for a city-wide competition. This takes place in New York, which is, yes I will say this, a goldmine of comedy in teaching children ballroom. The location also means one of the kids, with a great New Yorker accent, actually said "mad hot ballroom". I find that fun. And you end up really rooting for the kids, even when they're punks.
This scene is the beginning of the competition and the first event: merengue. It doesn't have any of the kids saying crazy things, but I love a dance competition of any kind.
4. Shall We Dansu?--This film follows Mr. Sugiyama as he decides to take a ballroom class because he sees a woman forlornly looking out the window from the train. He keeps his lessons a secret since, as introduced in the beginning of the film, Japanese society rarely displays affection let alone embraces in dance with a stranger. But as Sugiyama gets more involved in dance, his wife gets concerned about his time away from home and hires a private investigator to look after him. Friendship with the office weirdy who also dances ensues. More than anything, this movie displays the innocence, honesty, and vulnerability that comes out when dancing. The supporting cast is a fun group of misfits and gives the film most of the comedic relief. This movie is simple and absolutely lovely.
This was one of the few clips on YouTube, but it's one of the funniest scenes. Mr. Sugiyama discovers the office weirdy doing an insane rumba at the dance studio:
Ridiculous mentions: Below are two movies that I saw when I was about 14. In my vague memory, I recall they are ridiculous. And that I loved them.
Mad About Mambo--It's about an Irish footballer who's convinced he needs to learn the Latin dance to play like his favorite player from some country in South American (Brazil, maybe?) and he wants to learn how to use fancy footwork**. Mostly, I just remember the guy was cute and Kerri Russel was sweet and there were Irish accents.
The Way She Moves--This is was a 2001 VH1 original movie. Starring Agent Reyes, um Annabeth Gish, and some Hispanic guy who's on soap operas. There's a dance studio involved, Agent Reyes takes lessons and gets tangled up with Soap Opera guy, they fall in love, family tension, she's really white, they probably end up married. Made for TV.
*Check it out at about minute 7.
**I will attest to the fact that I got owned playing a pick-up soccer game or two against a group of Hispanic guys because their footwork was so insane.