MoviefiedNYC Reviews: Five Dances

Alan Brown’s Five Dances is an evocative film about the creation of a dance piece and the turmoil of the dancers’ lives. The story follows Chip (Ryan Steele, in his film debut), a gifted 18 year-old dancer and his struggle to realize his talent and passion, amidst the very real difficulties of being an artist in New York.

The strength and beauty of this movie lies in the titular dances. While the film follows the dancers as they rehearse each of these dances, it also shows the finished product in five separate installments. The dancing is so strong, elegant, and unconventional that it is easily the most interesting part of the movie. The camera gracefully captures the dancers and thrusts the audience right into the action, allowing us to feel like another participant of the dance.

Unfortunately, the film is not only about the dancing. Chip has an alcoholic mother who vacillates between making her son feel guilty and demanding his attention, no home, and an attraction to Theo (Reed Laplau), one of the other dancers. The problem is that Steele, Laplau, and their fellow dancers are not actors; they are dancers who can act. We never empathize with Chip because it all seems so ridiculous and overdone. During one scene, Theo questions Chip about his attraction. This comes as a shock to the audience because there has not been any indication that Chip is attracted to Theo or vice versa. There is neither sexual chemistry nor wanton desire between them. Ultimately, the beauty and the talent of the dancers can only carry the movie so far.

[Grade: D]

-Ariadne Ansbro

Twitter: @moviefiednyc
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