Saturday, April 08, 2006
Good Year, if You're Pierre Dulaine
Having a film made about you, and your impact on society, is a rare thing indeed. So, it's quite amazing that within the span of just one year, dancer and teacher Pierre Dulaine now has two. Last year, the documentary sleeper hit Mad Hot Ballroom gave film audiences a glimpse into Dulaine's "Dancing Classrooms" -- an outreach program of ballroom dance classes for New York City public school children. The film showed how Dulaine's program not only taught children to dance, but also instilled a sense of self-confidence, teamwork, community pride, and accomplishment. Having met Dulaine, it's easy to see how he would be able to start such a program in NYC schools -- he has a very charismatic personality. Now, as Mad Hot Ballroom makes its way onto DVD, a fictional account of Dulaine's life and work, Take the Lead, has opened in theaters, with Antonio Banderas portraying Dulaine. Take the Lead might easily be dismissed as another one of Hollywood's "feel good" movies if it didn't have the weight of fact behind it. I encourage moviegoers to rent Mad Hot Ballroom before seeing Take the Lead, to help remove any of the cynicism which may creep up while watching a film which proposes the notion that teaching inner city school children how to dance can, in fact, help to change their lives. Perhaps what has led Hollywood to make two films about Dulaine and his work within one year is the very fact you simply can't make this stuff up -- convincingly. Well, you can try; but then cynical moviegoers would just dismiss it as Hollywood fakery. Take the Lead joins Lean on Me, and Stand and Deliver as films which show the importance of positively influencing young minds which might otherwise be under challenged, or simply lost in the system.