Friday, December 25, 2009

Dancing Your Own Steps - In Competition

At our Christmas Eve Culinary Indulgence Festival last night, we discussed the fact that none of us could remember which DVDs we had any more. So today, I sat down and typed up a spread sheet of my movie titles. (This would be impossible to do with my books, but movies, I can just manage it.)

I was shocked to find some titles missing. Okay, maybe a couple of those Hitchcocks were ones I had in VHS or rented recently enough that I just thought I had them, but I was absolutely SURE that I had Strictly Ballroom. I know I did. That is my favorite writer movie of all time. How could I not have it?

I didn't know what to expect the first time I saw Strictly Ballroom. Friends had recommended it as "beautiful" and I had some vague idea that it was a little art house documentary about dancing. And for a minute or so, the opening did not dissuade me from this belief. Beautiful dancing, music, interviews.... and then it takes a wild left turn into something else entirely. (The opening sequence is worth watching just for its own sake.)

Strictly Ballroom, aside from being a great comedy, a fun fairytale romance (a la Cinderella meets Ugly Duckling) and a beautiful music and dance picture, is also a great writer's picture. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with the choices that greet a writer today especially in terms of going for professional publication or striking out on your own with self-publication, or some other new media paradigm.

This movie seems to be about breaking the rules and dancing your own steps... but it has a deeper message for the artist. The protagonists of this story could simply leave the world of ballroom dancing behind and dance for love, or on the street, or create their own venue. But they don't, even when pushed to the limit. The lesson here is not that you dance your own steps, but rather that you must dance your own steps in competition. For Real. Before the judges and audience.

So do it for real, whether you succeed or fail. Real dancing, and real writing, should always get its chance before the judges and the audience.

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