dance with me

DANCE WITH ME is the new movie starring Chayanne and Vanessa Williams.

It’s a tame little movie set primarily in a dance studio in Houston. In case you see the movie, that skyline is ours — Houston has a very impressive skyline and I want to make sure that you understand that the one in the movie is ours. That said, there is no chemistry between Chayanne and the talented Ms. Williams. They do a good job with their characters, but I never believed that the romance was real. And before any of you think that “it’s a movie, girl” thought that you’re bound to go through, I know that it’s a movie. But I pay good money to watch and, for the moment, believe that what’s going on might be plausible. And a romance between the stars of this movie just didn’t make the cut. I’ll admit that maybe, just maybe I was too harsh — I did just see HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK last week and the chemistry between Stella and her young lover was sizzling. DANCE WITH ME suffers by comparison.

As a writer I also have to point out that there are major holes in the writing of this movie. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but I will say that the plot is just an excuse to set up some elaborate dance scenes. Dance scenes that I enjoyed very much, thank you. Vanessa can really move and I love salsa and merengue. Just listening to the music makes me want to get up and dance. Did you know that Vanessa refused to use a body double for any of the dance scenes? There are some complicated and dangerous moves you really need to see to believe. The dance scenes alone are worth a matinee viewing.

The sheer enthusiasm Chayanne demonstrates in this role is almost enough to get me to commend his performance. Almost, but not quite. Chayanne isn’t an actor. I don’t think that a seasoned actor could have done more with the two-dimensional character we were shown, but there was an awkwardness to his performance that could have been ironed out. To his credit, his scenes with Vanessa were very natural and his dance scenes were exceptional. Also to his credit, he didn’t cop out and do a singing scene. For those of you who have never heard of him, Chayanne is a Puerto Rican singer, an ex-Menudo. And if you need to have someone explain who Menudo is, then I wash my hands of you right here and now. You are beyond help.

I am, of course, recommending to all of my friends that they go out and watch the movie. And I’m not encouraging them on the basis that the movie is entertaining or that the dance scenes are incredible or that Vanessa Williams looks great or that Chayanne has this boyish charm thing going. Nope. I’m telling people to go to the movie so that the numbers for the movie look decent and when the next producer goes to a studio to do a “Hispanic” movie the studio can’t use bad ticket sales on this movie as an excuse not to fund it. Unfortunately, as a Chicana I have to look at the big picture.