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Saturday, March 25, 2017

One Last Dance -- Chicken Soup Version

This is a movie directed by Lisa Niemi (Swayze) and released in 2010.

A comment on the Amazon webpage about the movie.
So few films have been made about the dance world, and this one captures the heart of it, with the insane hours of hard work, the sweat, and the frayed egos. The plot of One Last Dance is based on Without a Word, a play Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Neimi created many years ago. It is a wisp of a story, mostly about the emotions and conflicts of three dancers who are past their performance peak, returning to the stage for a benefit gala, to face their fears and the relationships they left behind.

Writer/director/actress and dancer Neimi, who has an inner and outer beauty so lovely to watch, has put One Last Dance together on a shoestring budget, with tremendous skill and a marvelous cast. The company dancers are superb, with a technical virtuosity in many styles, from traditional to the most contemporary. George de la Pena plays Max Delano, one of the three leads, and will be remembered from his days with the American Ballet Theater and on Broadway, and is dynamic both as a dancer and an actor. Other standouts include Matthew Walker as Alex McGrath, a sadistic choreographer, and Stefan Wenta as Orest, a poetic teacher who is an inspiration to all. Patrick Swayze as Travis is a marvel, with the athleticism and energy of someone half his age.

The wonderful score is by Stacy Widelitz, with non-original music that ranges from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, to a cameo by Daniel Heifetz (grandson of the legendary Jascha Heifetz) as a street violinist. The cinematography by Albert Dunk is terrific on the dance sequences, which sometimes have a touch of surrealism using smoke and other effects, and there are some magnificent overhead crane shots. Dance is not an easy thing to film, and in One Last Dance we have scenes that are spectacular. The interesting and sometimes inspired choreography is by Alonzo King, Dwight Rhoden, Doug Varone, and Patsy Swayze (Patrick's mother).

As someone who spent 2 decades of my life immersed in the world of dance, I appreciate the authenticity of this film, and the excellence of its performers. It is sure to become a film classic for dancers and those who love to watch them. DVD extras include a "behind the scenes" piece, and commentary by Patrick and Lisa. Total running time is 100 minutes.

Here is another comment on the Amazon webpage.
This movie is not without flaws--the dialogue and acting occasionally seem flat, recycled storylines, melodrama, etc., yet I am a sucker for dance movies and loved it nonetheless.

It's pretty obvious from the get-go that Travis and Chrissa are soul mates destined to reconnect after seven years of separation and misunderstandings. When Alex, the emotionally abusive director of a New York Dance Company, goes too far with his criticisms, three dancers' lives are redirected. Chrissa has a nervous breakdown (we later learn that she was newly pregnant during this scene, so hormones and stress contributed to her break) while Travis (injured from overexertion) can do little to comfort her besides telling off Alex. Max, the other member of the pas de trois, carries off a sobbing and temporarily deranged Chrissa to the nearest mental health hospital. ...

Yes, the plot is the stuff of soap operas, but it has heart, and the real-life love between Patrick Swayze (Travis) and his wife, Lisa Niemi (Chrissa), is palpable on-screen. Also, I can always empathize with someone who is experiencing a breakdown of sorts. ...

Swayze and Niemi are no longer twenty-somethings, yet they hold their own in this physically demanding art form. They dance beautifully.

In the behind-the-scenes special feature, Swayze said that this production hired four choreographers to represent the latest happenings in the dance world. I loved the choreography and the dancing --it was breathtaking and innovative. I was thrilled to see some of the very same dancers in this movie who have graced the covers of Dance and Pointe magazines. The dancers said that they felt like they really were members of the movie's dance company and that there was a spirit of collaboration and non-competitiveness as well as a suspension of ego during filming. One dancer said that he and the other dancers could easily and happily tour the movie's original dances to (he confidentally believed) great acclaim.

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