Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1998. Mandalay Entertainment, Ballroom Dancer. Screenplay by Daryl Matthews. Cinematography by Fred Murphy. Produced by Shinya Egawa, Randa Haines, Lauren Weissman. Music by Michael Convertino. Production Design by Waldemar Kalinowski. Costume Design by Joe I. Tompkins. Film Editing by Lisa Fruchtman, William S. Scharf.
Dance enthusiasts will go wild for this sunny, upbeat romantic film. Puerto Rican music sensation Chayanne has just buried his mother in Santiago de Cuba and has decided to go looking for his father in Texas. He arrives there, taking a job working as a glorified janitor at a dance studio for a gruff has-been professional competitor (Kris Kristofferson). While there, he begins a shy romance with professional dancer Vanessa Williams, and the two begin a stormy relationship that is constantly threatening to blow up: can his dance moves that come straight from the heart and from the inspiration of music ever get along with her years of training? You bet your bottom tassle it can! The weak script is predictable from the immediate get-go, right down to the family reconciliations and the climax at an international ballroom competition, leaving a dance movie far short of the quality of similar classics like Strictly Ballroom and Shall We Dance. However, director Randa Haines makes it up to us by not concentrating too much on the plot: this is a dance movie, and every time the large, talented cast kicks up its heels to cut a rug she indulges us endlessly in the pleasure of it. Most of the wonderful Latin music numbers were produced by the great Emilio Estefan.