The eagerly awaited ballroom dance motion picture "Dance With Me" (used to be known as Shut up and Dance), starring Vanessa Williams as Ruby the star dance instructress at John Burnett's (Kris Kristofferson) studio is opened in USA on 21 August 98. Watch for it. There's also downloadable video trailers of the movie at the Sony Pictures website.
Rafael comes from Santiago de Cuba after the death of his mother and is the illegitimate son of John who did not know. John engaged Rafael to be his studio's janitor. Rafael observed Ruby going through her warm up routines and sort of commented about her dancing with technical pricission but without passion. Rafael proceeded to show Ruby how to dance with passion in Salsa.
Ruby has always dreamt of returning to being a champion in a world wide latin dance championship but she is totally drained of her passion and dislike partnering her ex-husband cum dance partner, Julian (Rick Valenzuela, 3 times US Latin Champion) after being ditched by him. They never enjoyed a happy partnership and were always quivering over petty issues even while on the competition floor.
While the chemistry between the two main stars was not great, the dancing was pretty good. Especially since the main actors had no previous latin dance experience and were intensively trained for 5 months for the movie. Vanessa Williams really danced well considering the short period and would put many of our low to mid range competition dancers to shame. Lots of real top level competition dancers in the background like James & Janna Kunitz, Eric T Robinson & Maria Torres and Melanie La Patin & Tony Meredith.
One of the most interesting parts was the group Salsa dancing done in a club. Really great the way they kept changing partners. Perhaps in time to come, Singapore will be a facinating Salsa hub too!
The dancing looked more authentic compared to "Strictly Ballroom" (where the male lead had a really terrible dance hold and non existent hip work). But "Strictly Ballroom" had more intensity and passion in the plot. Jane Krakowski, who was also the partner Liz of Scott in Strictly Ballroom, was protrayed as a dedicated dancer, Patricia.
While the dancing standard of "Dance with Me" was higher than "Shall we dance?", the latter had some comical parts which made the movie very enjoyable. "Shall we dance?" also caught the spirit of social dancers moving up to competition dancing very well which would no doubt pull the heart strings of many people.
We felt that on the whole, "Dance with Me" was a good dance movie which all dancers and aspiring dancers should not miss. It would certainly help stir up more interest in ballroom dancing.
Article first published on 1 Sep 1998 co-authored with Robin Chee