out of Five
Running time: 80
Ballroom Dancer is an energetically honest documentary about Slavik Kryklyvyy, which offers fascinating insights into the former World Latin Dance champion and his relationship with new dance partner, Anna Melnikova.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed, Ballroom Dancer is a Danish documentary about the celebrated Russian dancer, Slavik Kryklyvyy, who returns to the hefty and highly pressured dance circuit after a near-fatal injury. Returning for a comeback with Anna (Anna Melnikova), his much younger dance partner and love interest, Slavik quickly becomes addicted to the limelight again, becoming obsessed with every move, rehearsal and competition. But when the duo struggle to overtake the current champions and Slavik grows increasingly meticulous and temperamental, the tension quickly boils over and Slavik and Anna must find away to avoid their feared failure.
Ballroom Dancer is a thoroughly interesting and captivating insight into the former World Latin Dance champion, which candidly captures Slavik’s every fear, doubt, pain and apprehension and exposes his frustrating battle between his inevitable ageing and fierce competitiveness. The relationship between Slavik and Anna is clearly raw and sensual as directors Bonke and Koefoed present enjoyable scenes between the duo in their natural states, whether they’re waking up or in the dance studio.
The rehearsal and dance scenes are also visually exciting thanks to the fine choreography and enveloping and entwining moves from Slavik and Anna, which builds anticipation and hope that the duo will eventually do well come crunch-time. Finally, the score and soundtrack enjoy some good moments, particularly the scene where Anna flirts on a boat trip to escape Slavik’s growing aggravation.
There are some avoidable camera faults in Ballroom Dancer, most notably at the beginning of the film, when Slavik and Anna are having a discussion with a coach, who’s back of her head the camera somehow seems to find bafflingly fascinating, which is – as expected - difficult to endure in the viewer’s seat. Finally, the reconciliation dance scene between Slavik and Anna, who dance to ‘You Were Always On My Mind’, like a silent apology from Slavik to Anna, is palpably corny.
Despite some flaws, Ballroom Dancer is an exclusive and entertaining insight into the life of Slavik Kryklyvyy with some fantastically energetic dance scenes and fascinating insights into his relationship with his new dance partner. Worth watching.