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Politically correct dancing

  • 02 April 2007

Razzle Dazzle: A Journey into Dance. Starring Kerry Armstrong, Jane Hall, Ben Miller, Toni Lamond and Nadine Garner. Directed by Darren Ashton. Rated PG. 95 mins. website

Mr Jonathon (Miller) runs a suburban dance school with a difference. He only produces routines that drive home a social or political message. His young protégés have to immerse themselves in choreographies about starvation, people dying of AIDS and the nuclear holocaust. Miss Elizabeth (Hall), on the other hand, runs a very traditional ballet academy where the closest the children come to getting down and dirty is a demi-plié.

Miss Elizabeth has won the Sanosafe Troupe Spectacular several times. But with the determination of a young dancer Tenille (Shayni Notelovitz) and her overbearing stage mum, Justine (Armstrong), this year might be a triumph for the socially inept dancing the politically correct.

Razzle Dazzle: A Journey into Dance is a classic ocker comedy. It lifts the lid on a particular slice of Australian suburbia, and deliciously mocks it. Reminiscent of Strictly Ballroom, this film parodies the pushy parent, children’s recreation out of control, competition as everything, and middle class sensibilities.

The children in this film are very talented, and there are some hilarious moments on the screen. But the overall impression is not as great as its parts. In fact I found Razzle Dazzle an unsettling film for two reasons. Many of the children we get to know come out of complex backgrounds – homosexual parents, rejected foster placements, serious body image issues or abusive mothers. It is hard to simply laugh off some of this stuff. Secondly, in the name of advocating for multiculturalism, one of Mr Jonathan’s ballets highlights the violent oppression of Afghani women by their men. In the choreography the symbol of their emancipation is when these Islamic women discard the burkha and jive around as western women. Such an idea might play to the gallery, but does not help anyone name the nature of gender politics, and let us not pretend that multiculturalism is truly expressed by everyone looking like us. Razzle Dazzle is cute and fun, but is certainly not the "spectacular comedy" the creators would have us believe.