directed by Brian Lilla
On some levels, ballroom dancing is as cutthroat and brutal as NFL football, but there are some places where competition is secondary to getting a good post-retirement aerobic session. “Caleb” watched the 9/11 towers come down and decided he needed a change in his life so he moved from sparkling NYC to sweaty Ormond Beach, Florida and opened a ball room dance studio. His clientele leans toward older widowed woman, but the few still married need to see men other than their husbands who are busy mowing the lawn or complaining about long haired kids with their loud music. In order to give structure to the lessons, Caleb produces an annual dance recital, and this year’s “Spy vs. Spy” theme project is the center piece of this movie. Supporting him is his choreographer Joe; they write up skits, set them to movement, and practice, practice, practice.
We meet some of their students on first name only basis. They all seem reasonably well off, living in golf course condos or vintage Florida houses, and all have one issue in common – loneliness. Dance is an ideal outlet for their energy; the motion is aerobic and low impact, they can flirt with a cute guy with a guarantee nothing will happen, and it gets them out of the house on a regular schedule. None of the choreography will outdo Martha Graham, but that’s not the point. Rhumba, tango, and a chance to wear outrageous dresses makes life worth living for the students, and it provides Caleb and Joe with enough coin to keep the lights on and feeling like they are contributing to society. The resulting show is respectable and the thrill of opening night is clearly presented complete with a flurry of minor crises. You won’t come away with much insight into dance, but the psychology of keeping post-retirement post-life partner spirits up come out loud and clear.