Only When I Dance
Film Movement // Unrated // $24.95 // December 7, 2010
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted January 19, 2011
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Film:  

Only When I Dance is an inspiring documentary that will have anyone who has ever taken an interest in dancing engrossed. This tale is about the hard path taken by two low income teenager's working diligently to make their dreams become a genuine reality. The story focuses directly on these two individuals: Irlan and Isabela. These wonderfully joyous individuals live in Brazil and are surrounded by the usual potential pitfalls that could lead into a bad upbringing based solely upon their surrounding environment.  Both are black teens that aspire to become professional ballet dancers in a career field that is more commonly dominated by a white community with a higher income bracket than they have ever had the opportunity to know. Irlan must also overcome the prejudice of being a male dancer when it is not so common to be one in his country. The good thing is that they are not faced with meeting these challenges alone. This documentary demonstrates how both children have caring parents who also aspire for Irlan and Isabela to find true success and who have raised them to be the courageous young adult's that they are demonstrating themselves as being.  These remarkable dancers will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams and it is with this fully committed and driven passion that audiences can lay witness to one of the more exciting documentaries to be released in 2010. The story that unfolds is much more involving than many fiction films even aspire towards becoming. Indeed, knowing that it is all real will only seek to enhance viewer appreciation ten-fold.

An element of the film that I appreciated in particular was the careful balance brought to capturing the moments featuring dancing along with the ongoing issues facing Irlan and Isabela in their daily struggles. In doing so, I believe that the film will impress both long-time dancers and those who are new to the art.

A beautiful score is provided by Stephen Hilton. The music was glorious to my ears and always reinforced the importance of the journey with a unique sense of style and grace.

The direction by Beadie Finzi is superb and never feels overdone. Finzi seems to understand how to simply let the story take its own natural course and the documentary is all the more powerful because of this firm acknowledgement of what is truly important to capture in a doc. She also demonstrates a superb artistic voice with many interesting and visually impressive moments throughout that increases the naturally artistic tone of the film.

The DVD:


The film is presented in its original Portuguese language with a 2.0 soundtrack. The sound is surprisingly good for a documentary and I did not detect any noticeable problems. English subtitles are included.

Only When I Dance is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1 and in an anamorphic widescreen transfer. This documentary was filmed using High Definition cameras and as such a reasonably pleasing video quality is demonstrated on this release. The colors are relatively vibrant and while there is some inherent softness in the film it is still a beauty to behold.


I wasn't expecting any extras. I was luckily proven wrong in this regard. While you won't find anything too extensive what you will find is a few quality extras that don't run very long. A production video features interviews with the director and some crew members as they discuss working on the film. Another extra gives us some post-film comments from Irlan and Isabela in regards to being a part of a documentary and what the experience was like for them.

The biggest highlight of the release is a moving short film. Lil'A (from director Katharina Sophie Brauer) focuses on a 12 year old who stands out as an impressive young dancer who also has big dreams for his future. The film only runs 11 minutes but it offers some nice insight into why he dances and we get to see him pulling off some nice dance moves too.

Rounding out the extras is the theatrical trailer for Only When I Dance and trailers for other Film Movement releases.

Final Thoughts:

Only When I Dance should appeal to anyone who takes an interest in educational and inspiring film-making. Teens will undoubtedly relate too -- regardless of whether or not they might want to succeed in a field as competitive as professional dance. It is also nearly impossible to not take away a considerable amount of awe from simply watching the two leads attempting to accomplish their dream. The DVD release contains a satisfying number of bonus materials and has given the film a respectable treatment.

Highly Recommended.

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