My favorite dance movie: Joan Emery Sia
From Billy Elliot to Black Swan, dance has provided an intense backdrop to some of the big screen’s most emotional stories. Dancers, in turn, are inspired by films which revolve on their chosen calling. In this series, the artists of Ballet Manila share their thoughts on the dance movies that made an impact on them, that they relate to and which they have grown to love.
Ice Castles is not about dancing, but about figure-skating. But since this sport involves a combination of graceful movements and intense athleticism – very much like ballet – Joan Emery Sia considers this film as her favorite dance movie.
“I've always been fascinated by gymnastics and figure-skating. Other than ballet, of course. If only we had those in Cagayan de Oro then, I would have gone for lessons!” Joan confesses.
Ice Castles is actually a favorite movie of Joan's mom Jiji and it was she who introduced the ballerina to the romance drama. In it, Lexie (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is starting to make a name for herself as a competing figure skater but in a freak accident loses her eyesight. With the help of her estranged boyfriend Nick (Robby Benson), Lexie, who recovers very limited vision, somehow is able to take to the ice and skate once more.
“I first watched Ice Castles when I was around 13 or 14 years old when my mom bought a CD. I instantly fell in love with it! I even loved the soundtrack,” recalls Joan. (Ice Castles is also known for its theme song, Looking Through the Eyes of Love, which was even nominated for an Academy Award.)
Joan likes the part where Nick gives Lexie tough love. “She would go manic and lose her temper, throw things around out of frustration. And he would put his foot down and force her to get back on her feet. He was fighting with her as well. He believed in her and soon enough, she started fighting for herself, too.”
Her favorite scene comes at the end when, as Joan describes, Lexie is finally dancing again. “Okay, fine, figure-skating,” she laughingly clarifies. “You could then see the faces of her dad, her coach and Nick who are all so proud of what she has achieved despite her handicap. To anyone out there reading this, watch the 1978 version. You will understand why it never fails to make me cry.”
For Joan, Ice Castles underscores many themes that she can relate to as a dancer constantly challenged physically and emotionally. “It has taught me a lot. Never be complacent, keep focus. Also, that courage, perseverance and tough love can go a long long way.”