________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 6 . . . . November 12, 1999

cover The Dancing Game.

Christa Schadt (Director). Elliott Halpern, Simcha Jacobovici and Gerry Flahive (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
49 min., 53 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: 9197 026.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Luella Sumner.

*** /4


"Ballroom dancing - the perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire. But is it sport? The International Olympic Committee says 'yes', and that's the first step towards the Olympic Games."
The Dancing Game, a colourful and exciting look at ballroom dancing competitions, focuses on two couples. The Canadian pair, Claude Crevier and Kathy McCraw, have won the Canadian Latin Championship but are virtual unknowns in Canada. They have to find their own funds for training, traveling and costumes and have to scrimp and save to take lessons from top coaches and to attend international competitions. In one year, they have spent $25,000 on travel, lessons and costumes. They desperately need a sponsor who will help with expenses. An agent who represents other sports figures says that corporate sponsors will only be interested if the athlete can successfully promote a product. Can a ballroom dancer do that? Claude and Kathy have qualified to compete at the World Latin Championship in Germany.
     The other couple are from Germany. Ralf and Olga Muller, superstars in their country with sponsors to pay their expenses, can practice, all day, every day, in their own studio. They have spent about $100,000 in one year just on costumes. Having won an international competition at Blackpool, England, they now will also compete at the World Latin Championship at Kessel, Germany.
     Claude and Kathy survive the first elimination round and dance in the second round. But that is the end of their hopes this time; they are eliminated. Still, in one year, they have come from nowhere to compete at the Worlds. Ralf and Olga are triumphant, winning first place and overwhelming adulation in Germany.
     The video has interviews with many Olympic officials, the man in the street, television and sports personalities, as the question is asked, "Is ballroom dancing a sport?" Some say yes, some say no. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has accepted the International Dance Sport Federation as a "recognized federation." But another very important consideration remains: "Is there money to be made from ballroom dancing if it becomes an Olympic event?" Some are sure that it will be a big moneymaker for the TV networks if it is presented successfully. Others aren't so sure. The IOC denies that television moguls will carry any weight when the final decision is made. If ballroom dancing is ever accepted as a medal sport, the current stars, such as Claude and Kathy and Ralf and Olga, will probably not be active participants any longer, but future dancers will reap the benefit of their efforts today.


Luella Sumner is a librarian at the Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.

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