Ballroom: Beyond Glitz and Tits?

I’m a die-hard fan of Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 work “Strictly Ballroom.” It’s one of the few dance movies I can think of that fully acknowledges the very worst of the competitive dance world–the tasteless and trashy, the vapid and vain, the divas and drama queens. At the same time, it’s a moving story about the importance of following one’s heart, even when it means going against the tide.

The film was on my mind last weekend as I headed down the coastal highway through a blustery rainstorm to catch the opening night of Fascinating Rhythms, a ballroom dance production now playing at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre Company through December 23. This show isn’t a satire, of course, and it’s not a competition either. Yet it’s another interesting blend of humor and sentimentality, glitzy glamor, and tender heartstring-tugging ballads. Headliner Melissa Manchester belts out some solid numbers with a backing band, the choreography is polished, and the dancers are totally pro–to the degree that anyone can be totally pro while doing the splits wearing strappy heels and a bikini covered in tassels.

In my review of the show in the Santa Barbara Independent, I stuck primarily to descriptive reportage–always the safest tactic when I find myself reacting to things like scandalously skimpy costumes, flashing colored lights, and Broadway-style ‘tits-n-teeth’ showmanship. The truth is, Luhrmann’s lovingly satirical take on the world of ballroom is so firmly lodged in my mind, I seem to be incapable of taking the form seriously.

But maybe that’s not a requirement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

Post Navigation