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MOVIE REVIEW: Shall We Dansu? (Original Japanese version)

Shall We Dance is the story of how learning to dance changes the life of an ordinary man. This original version is set in Japan and was released in 1997.

The movie starts with the main character, Sugiyama, riding the subway home from work. Sugiyama has a good wife, a good job and has just bought the house of his dreams for his family. With all his apparent success, however, he still finds himself unfulfilled and basically bored with his life. Looking out from the subway window he is intrigued to see a beautiful woman gazing out of the window of a ballroom dance studio. He is captivated and gathering his courage he joins the dance classes to find out more about her. What he finds when he gets there is that the excitement, energy and fun of ballroom dancing is what he was really missing.

One of the best things about this movie is the insightful, empathetic and hilarious portrayal of the process of learning to dance. From his first dance steps to his first competition we feel Sugiyama's pain as he struggles with the limits and restrictions of his own body. Anyone who has ever taken ballroom dancing lessons will really understand that pain and also the victory of finally getting it. Anyone who hasn't will probably want to get in on the action ASAP!

In addition to the physical and mental challenges we see, Shall We Dance also paints a tremendously accurate and sensitive picture of the emotional challenge of learning to dance. Partnership problems, self-consciousness, embarrassment, disappointment, and the fear of failure are big challenges for Sugiyama and the other characters in this movie, as they are for every dancer. Sugiyama's journey of learning to dance, however, is also a journey of friendship, love and finding joy and meaning in life. Shall we Dance understands the challenge of ballroom dancing, but ultimately this is a movie that celebrates the good things that learning to dance can be.

The thing that really makes Shall we Dance a special movie though, is the overall tone and feel - it's down to earth, warm and very funny. Sugiyama has a quiet elegance that brings real dignity to the movie while his friends and classmates are fun, original characters that help bring out the laughs. Shall we Dance is never elitist, pretentious or weird - it is simply a charming story that will bring a smile to your face. The fact that it's a Japanese movie only makes it more endearing.

Against the backdrop of a culture where ballroom dancing is laughed at as a pastime for perverts and showgirls, Shall we Dance describes ballroom dancing with humour, grace and respect. It is a wonderful movie and certainly one that every ballroom dancer will cherish. If you haven't seen it do yourself a favor and put it on your list.

Happy Dancing,


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

MOVIE REVIEW: Shall We Dansu? (Original Japanese version)
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 1/04/2007 11:05:00 PM

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