My Favorite Dance Movie: Marinette Franco
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.
For Marinette Franco, High Strung accurately captures the challenges of being a ballet dancer – how hard it is to get in, to maintain what one has and to do everything just to be able to do what one loves.
Released in 2016, High Strung is the story of classical dance scholar Ruby and violinist busker Johnnie who meet in the subway and later team up for a competition so he can get a student visa that would allow him to legally stay in the United States.
Marinette got keenly interested in watching the movie upon learning that the lead actress Keenan Kampa used to dance with the Kirov Ballet. Many other cast members are real-life ballet and hip-hop dancers, making it more credible and authentic. “The storyline is kind of predictable, but I didn't really mind it at all since I fell in love with how they all looked passionate with their art.”
The Ballet Manila 2 member approves of the part where the characters are practicing for competition. “I like how they showcased the tight schedules, the tiring rehearsals and the hard work they all put in to do great in their performance. Because rehearsals are really no joke! You have to do the best you can every rehearsal so that it gets better and better and the performance will look good,” says Marinette, who herself landed as a finalist in the 2017 Asian Grand Prix competition in Hong Kong.
She adds about High Strung: “I like how they were all working together, helping and motivating one another. That's really important – to have people support you and to help you get back on track where you are supposed to be.”
Marinette was struck by one line in particular. Upon hearing Ruby say she is working hard to be perfect, a teacher retorts: "And what if you've achieved perfection? You'll stop? It's the imperfections that keep us alive, motivating us to push further and harder.”
“It is true that when you are dancing ballet, there's really no perfection. But we still keep on working and working, to try to achieve that perfection. The imperfections that we have are the key for us to do better, motivating us to work harder,” Marinette points out.
She acknowledges that things can be difficult. Like many of her young fellow dancers in Ballet Manila, she has to balance regular school with ballet work. “There are times when we feel like giving up, but we continue pushing, continue dancing because it's just what we love. It is who we are, who we chose to be, and this is what we will show our audience and hopefully, our dancing will touch their hearts.”
For Marinette, High Strung should be a must-see for dancers and non-dancers alike. “This movie really holds lessons and it educates viewers on the discipline and the hard work dancers put into their art and how much they are willing to sacrifice for it.”