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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » April 8, 2009
Culture
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Love and Dance
April 8, 2009   
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Kochaj i tańcz (Love and Dance), Poland's first high-budget dance movie, hit the silver screen March 6. This is a feature-length debut by director Bruce Parramore, whose offerings so far have been restricted to commercials, music videos and short films.

The opening was preceded by a heated debate on whether the movie, financed and heavily promoted by Polish private television station TVN, was merely jumping on the dance show bandwagon that spread across the world starting from around 2004. That was when the British Strictly Come Dancing television show hit the airwaves for the first time. The Polish version, called Taniec z gwiazdami, appeared in 2005.

In its opening week, Kochaj i tańcz was seen by around 800,000 people, overtaking previous Polish box office hits such as Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania from director Andrzej Wajda and The Pianist from Roman Polanski.

The very simple plot revolves around a girl-next-door type, played by Izabella Miko, whose ordinary, organized life changes because of dance, embodied by a young man from the suburbs (Mateusz Damięcki), who is slightly reminiscent of Billy Elliot. The choice of the leading actors is no coincidence, as Miko rose to fame in the United States with a role in the sequel to Save the Last Dance, never released in Poland, while the career of Damięcki, the son of a well-known Polish film and theater actor, took off after he came in third in the sixth series of the Taniec z gwiazdami show.

Contemporary moviegoers are mostly told that love is the realm of the young, beautiful and rebellious. This is coupled with the cult of sensuality, youth and sexuality and dance is a perfect tool to underline all of these. Dance stimulates the senses and brings out hidden primordial instincts that are unconstrained by social conventions.

Kochaj i tańcz lacks what a lot of recent movies have an excess of, which is straightforward, aggressive sexuality. Some argue the love theme in the movie is poorly developed-the only physical contact between the main characters is a kiss in the closing scenes. Their love is not fierce or violent. They are level-headed and calm about their relationship, looking back at their past with the distance and wisdom only two mature people can have.

The production involved both professional dancers and talented street dance amateurs. The dance routines are top notch, offering a fusion of traditional, freestyle and street dance that you can see at clubs and discos in Warsaw and when you take a stroll in the Old Town, where young people show off their dance skills.

Parramore's movie repeats pop cultural clichés seen in other dance films in both its plot and message. Seeing how the movie is a directing debut, this was to be expected. But Kochaj i tańcz boasts undeniably spectacular dance scenes. For two hours, you witness a glorious combination of acting, dancing and acrobatic talent.
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