Released in UK cinemas in January and premiered at the prestigious Tribecca Film Festival, Ballroom Dancer is the dazzling dance film that seamlessly merges fact with fiction. Filmed over two years and featuring the best dancers in Latin American dance; including Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis, the film charts the emotional journey of dancing partners Slavik Kryklyvyy and Anna Melnikova as they attempt to win the coveted World Dance championship title.
Kryklyvyy, the celebrated former World Latin American Dance Champion has been out of the spotlight for over ten years. Dance fans will remember how he and his former partner Joanna Leunis dominated the world of dancesport and equally how she dramatically left him (both professionally and personally) in 2002. Together with his new dance partner Melnikova, he is determined to recapture his former glory. However the road to the title is intense and Kryklyvyy, (a tough, demanding dancer), expects nothing less than perfection from Anna, his new partner in dance and love.
Seductive and engaging, the movie (filmed in quasi-documentary style) borrows tools from feature film-making, managing to chart the dramatic highs and lows of Slavik’s return to the dance floor. Partially scripted by the film makers, the directors found however that life began to imitate art as Kryklyvyy’s real-life relationship with Melnikova started to disintegrate over the course of the years. Several years his junior, Anna is a placid, competent dancer who wants desperately to please her partner; what she lacks however is the pure drive and determination felt by Slavik for the title. As we follow them taking part in competitions around the globe, hopping from one hotel to the next and surviving on a strict diet of plain boiled rice, it becomes obvious that Anna does not share the same passion, motivation and talent that Slavik needs to achieve his dream. He wants her to explode with abandon and energy on the floor and as the film progresses and Slavik’s comments on her dancing capabilities become sharper and harsher, we see Anna retreating within herself, endlessly fiddling with her mobile phone to avoid further conflict.
Juxtaposing the glittering façade of ballroom dancing against the physically demanding schedules, routines and sacrifices made by top dancers today, Ballroom Dancer charts the universal story of an artist’s desire for perfection and the ensuing battle of ambition, doubt, anxiety and commitment that accompanies it. As far away from the cute, safe world represented on screen in the 1992 Aussie hit Strictly Ballroom, Ballroom Dancer begins as a comeback story and evolves into a movingly intimate tragic romance that will please both film fans and dance fans alike.