DVD Review – Only When I Dance


(special thanks to Film Movement for providing me with a screener!)

A little-known, deep secret of mine is that I used to do ballet as a child. Yeah, me, that fat whale you see here on the site. For about a year-and-a-half I danced as well as I could (not well), eventually giving it up when my body said, “Oh, hell no, Tubby McFat!” Occasionally I’ve kicked around thoughts of going back to it as a way of getting into better shape and keeping my flexibility up. But then sanity sets in and that’s the end of that.

Of course some kids don’t give up on ballet. Kids like Irlan and Isabella of Brazil who are featured in Only When I Dance, the latest release from Film Movement. They are both from poor backgrounds, living in a place that doesn’t seem to exactly be a slum, but is clearly a place where you can smell the slums. They’ve both discovered a great passion for dance and both are very, very good.

We follow them and their teacher as we see them rehearse, perform and compete in competitions in New York City and Switzerland. Both kids clearly are great at what they do and have a great drive to do it, though one is also clearly better than the other.

This was a wonderful film. I was really rooting for the stars, and seeing a Brazil that’s different from what we usually see (either massive poverty or constant carnival), was quite nice. I do feel the film suffered somewhat in focusing on both kids. Really only one should’ve been followed. The other, while not bad and certainly having a somewhat more compelling back story, wasn’t nearly as interesting.

But beyond that, a great movie all around!

== Short Subject ==

This month’s short subject is the German film “Lil’ A”, about a twelve-year-old boy who suffered from severe muscular ticks throughout his early life. Eventually he took up dancing partly as a way to deal with them, and now seems to be determined to become the next big thing in Berlin.

I would’ve liked for this movie to be a little longer. It was very good, though, and certainly a nice compliment to the main feature!

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