And Then We Danced
In a mirrored room full of figures dressed in black, a young man and a young woman dance. An older man, scowling with arms folded, watches and then cries at the boy: “You’re too soft! You should be like a nail!” This is essentially the young man, Merab’s’, problem; he doesn’t fit the role he has been given.
And Then We Danced is set in Georgia and concerns Merab, his partner Mary, his brother David and the mysterious Irakli as they train at the Georgian National Ensemble. Merab is struggling when talented new boy Irakli appears and catches his attention. At first he is jealous, but the two quickly become close, training and socialising together. Mary becomes suspicious, as do other, less sympathetic onlookers. After a series of lingering glances and brushed cheeks, the two consummate their relationship.
But things fall apart. Merab’s family has unpaid bills and their electricity is turned off. David is out every night and will likely be thrown out of the ensemble. Irakli suddenly disappears and won’t answer his phone. Merab, determined to prove himself as a dancer, injures his ankle and appears to have spoiled his chances. All the while, there are rumours about Zaza – a former dancer who was caught with another man and beaten to within an inch of his life.
Levan Akin’s film is somehow both fluid and claustrophobic, like that mirrored room full of dancers. Georgia seems to be less tolerant than most when it comes to homosexuality, and Georgian dancing is described as unquestionably “masculine”. It is within this airless environment that Merab finds himself. As he rebels against the overbearing patriarch of his dance ensemble and descends into the gay nightlife scene his dancing becomes freer, less structured and more joyful. Despite the generally cold atmosphere, Akin provides numerous sparks of warmth; the humour and charm of Georgian family life is evident and the fearsome beauty of Georgian dance is stirring.
This is a brave and humane film. Although we may feel we have seen some of these scenes before or know the way the narrative will turn, it remains vivid and touching. And Then We Danced has something important to say and deserves an audience.
And Then We Danced is released nationwide on 13th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for And Then We Danced here: