Strictly Ballroom

‘An individual shapes his or her own sense of belonging Everyone wants to belong somewhere, but sometimes when we actually do belong to a particular world or group, we find it a struggle because our sense of belonging is actually quite superficial. A person has a need to be attached to a certain world or place. Belonging is based on conforming and complying with these different worlds or places. It is embedded in our nature to seek both attachment and independence.

Scott Hastings, the protagonist in Bag Allurement’s 1992 flamboyant and stylized film Strictly Ballroom fete struggles to belong to the insular, claustrophobic and gaudy ballroom dancing world because he only wants to belong on his own terms. Perceive this in Bag loran’s ‘strictly ballroom’ and the short film ‘ Paris Jew t’ mime’ . (Barry Fife, president of the Dance Federation, and therefore a symbol of the barrier that Scott has to overcome in order to belong on his own terms, reacts to the performance with intense anger. The background of red curtain reflects the red of his face, captured in medium close up.

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Coot’s actions are in direct opposition to the authoritarian ministrations imposed by the dancing authorities. The film’s plot then centers on Coot’s struggles as he seeks to challenge the world from within its boundaries, and those around him, with the exception of his father, and the ugly duckling Fran, seek to stop him. ) In the first scene of Bag Loran’s ‘Strictly Ballroom’ we see Scott Hastings dancing with Liz at the Pan Pacific. Scott breaks out into his own no federation steps, the individuality of Scott is further emphasized with his vibrant sparkly yellow costume.

The crowd cheers and applauds enthusiastically as Scott spins and twill his way around the dance floor (talk about camera angles). We the see a low angle shoo of Barry Fife, his anger and fury is conveyed by his facial expression and is further intensified by the red background. These steps are not accepted in the ‘Dance Federation’ yet Scott chooses to not conform with the norm of dancing the ballroom step and dances his own unique steps. This is how he shapes his own sense that he does not belong to the federation. (He wants to dance his own steps, and challenge he subculture from the inside.

The rigid, hierarchical and conservative ballroom dancing world, represented by the film’s antagonist Barry Fife prevents Scott from innovating, and as a result, Coot’s experience of belonging to this world is a struggle. ) (This struggle is filially conveyed by Allurement in the film’s opening scenes when we witness the reaction to Coot’s expressive dance style. Coot’s individuality is captured in a long shot as he leaps and spins through the frame, his sparkling yellow costume shimmering and his physical prowess emphasized through he use of slow motion.

Coot’s celebratory Samba is clearly not welcomed by those who have power over Scott including Barry Fife and Coot’s mother Shirley. It is the negative reaction from these characters that make Coot’s experience of belonging to this competitive world, with its emphasis on rules and conformity, such a struggle for him. Shirley disappointment is conveyed first through the announcement style interview at the start of the film – Shirley tells us that Coot’s unconventional moves with a cabinet full of trophies dominating the background of the frame.

Later, towards the end of the sequence, we see Shirley in close-up, to emphasis her despairing reaction to her son’s avian-garden performance. ) Similarly in the French short film ‘Paris Jew Teatime’ , we see Carol walking down a street in Paris. She narrates ” I wanted a first hand experience of Paris”. We see he walk into a hair salon and begin to ask (in French) Where is a nice place to eat? The store worker replies in English. This use of humor indicates directly that Carol can not speak French fluently, as the lady knew Carol was of an English speaking back ground.

She can not conform with the French community that she is in even though she believed that she did. Carol constructs her own sense of belonging as she believes that she fits within the French community. We see Scott dancing and improvising his own steps in front of the mirror. Fran enters the studio and watches him. She tells Scott that she want to dance with him, immediately he replies “are you crazy? ‘ we she his expression change to almost shocked in response to Fran. This shows us he is still connected to the dance federation and its hierarchy structure.

He insiders her as not acceptable to dance with him. The contrast between the two emphasizes the division, she is always wearing plain clothing with big spectacles were as most of the time Scott is wearing exuberant costumes with bright vibrant colors. Fran is not connected to this life and through her physical appearance we notice that she is alienated through this. She chooses to wear her plain clothing and spectacles and no makeup. This is part of her life and the life she belongs to but through belonging to her Spanish community she is alienated within the dance community.

Jesse
from Nandarnold

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