Eye For Film >> Movies >> Ballroom Dancer (2011) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
As the art of ballroom dancing continues to hot foot its way into the hearts of audiences both via ever-popular TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With the Stars and through big-screen films including Mad Hot Ballroom and the closley related ballet documentary Only When I Dance. Although diverse in terms of participants, they all share a celebratory notion of dance and have an element of triumph against the odds.
Andreas Koefoed and Christian Bonke's documentary, then, offers an interesting counterpoint, as it follows not an up and coming dancer but one who has already hit the rocks. Vyacheslav "Slavik" Kryklyvyy's early tale was the sort that documentaries usually latch on to. Raised in a poor family, the Ukranian was 'discovered' at age 22 and went on to shoot up through the ranks of Latin dance and become the world number in 2000, just two years later.
His temperament, however, made him difficult to work with and his brush with fame seemed fleeting, although his former partner Joanna Leunis - a powerful presence here despite the fact that she is not interviewed - has gone on to dominate the competitive dance scene. Bonke and Koefoed catch up with Slavik a decade later when, determined to get on the comeback trail he has fallen in love and into a dancing partnership with amateur dance champ Anna Melnikova.
With intimate access to the pair, both together and alone, they document the cauldron of intesity that typifies the modern dance circuit. With practice key and little room for error, Slavik and Melnikova are 'hothoused' together almost round the clock.
In a similar fashion to last year's The Swell Season, a sense of doomed romance quickly emerges as it seems unlikely that Slavik's twin goals of perfection in dance and capturing a romantic soulmate will be compatible. Tensions between the pair quickly emerge and there's a sense of Slavik, no matter what his commitment to dance or relationships, is somehow out of step with everyone else.
Although a little flabby at 84 minutes and, perhaps, more suited to the small-screen once it has taken a twirl around the festival circuit, Bonke and Keofoed have crafted a compelling portrait that asks questions about the nature and inherent dangers of competition, ambition, sacrifice and commitment both on and off the dance floor.Reviewed on: 10 May 2012