The classic tale of finding success and romance in the big city is given a contemporary, and unconventional, spin in Alan Brown’s new film, Five Dances. Collaborating with internationally renowned choreographer Jonah Bokaer, writer-director Brown has taken five gifted New York dancers, and fashioned a story about Chip (Ryan Steele in his first film role), an extraordinarily talented 18 year-old recently arrived from Kansas who joins a small downtown modern dance company. In his first weeks of rehearsal, Chip is initiated into the rites of passage of a New York dancer’s life, where discipline and endless hard work, camaraderie and competitiveness, the fear of not being good enough, and the joy of getting it just right, inform every minute of every day. Shooting in and around a Soho dance studio, Brown and his longtime cinematographer Derek McKane capture the exhilaration and emotional turmoil of a small dance company, and all of Chip’s poignant firsts the forging of friendships, being chosen for the important solo, his first ever love affair with the intimacy and immediacy of a documentary. The result, Five Dances, is Brown’s most dynamic film.


“Five Dances” is a solid work about an artist’s devotion to the craft. So many other films want to hang subplots on a narrative like this. Sometimes, the struggle is just nailing your life’s work in a way that can make your struggle seem that important. Think about it this way, you watch martial arts movies and study people who dedicate themselves to one goal. How different is Chip from whatever character Gordon Liu was playing in the 1980s?

Films about dancing are as old as Hollywood itself. Practicality by way of extravagance by way of old fashioned athleticism allows for material that pops on the screen. While this isn’t going to win over everyone, there is potential for crossover. There are LGBT elements, but I hope everyone is mature and sensible enough to not let that stop them from seeking this movie out. I would like to think that the AV Nation has moved past trivialities like that. Enjoy this film for what it is. A young man finding himself within the love of art.

The DVD comes with a commentary, trailer and deleted scenes as the special features. The A/V Quality is pretty strong for an indie drama. The transfer is pretty solid for standard definition. The same can be said for the Dolby 5.1 Surround track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to the curious.

RELEASE DATE: 07/29/2014

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