And Then We Danced
Time Out says
Cultural and personal identity clash in Levan Akin’s coming-out drama set against the ultra-conservative world of Georgian dance.
‘There’s no sex in Georgian dance,’ barks a grim-faced instructor in this coming-out gem. ‘This isn’t the lambada.’ Boy, he’s not kidding. If the powers that be had their way, the artform that young dancer Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is mastering would barely pack the erotic charge of some morris men capering on a damp village green. Georgian dance is an expression of the country’s ultra-traditional values and not a space for a man to come to terms with his sexuality.
It is, in other words, a perfect crucible for director Levan Akin to explore the pressures that keep Merab from addressing who he really is. The furtive glances exchanged with handsome class newbie Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) come laden with risk, considering there’s locker-room gossip of a gay dancer who was packed off to a monastery. Upping the stakes even further, Merab wants to make the national dance team, replacing that banished troupe member.
Gelbakhiani, a dancer himself, is a magnetic presence: by turns boyish, petulant and defiant. He’s often filmed in flat shallow focus – this isn’t the most visual film of the year – but, whether throwing shapes to Abba or grimly clinging on to his waiting job, he gives this clash of cultural and personal identity a relatable face. ‘And Then We Danced’ is a bold reminder that even the most entrenched traditions can be changed.
Cast and crew