Take the Lead

Antonio Banderas teaches ballroom dancing to the “rejects” at a New York inner-city high school in director Liz Friedlander’s first film, which was inspired by a true story. Displeased by the ill-mannered street thugs and sassy students, Banderas’ Pierre Dulaine arrives in a suit and tie on his 10-speed to volunteer to teach the rumba and tango. At first, the too-cool-for-dancing school detainees laugh at the twinkle-toes therapy, but are soon fascinated and inspired by the accented philosophies and fast steps of their unlikely teacher. Soon, the teens are exhibiting high morals, overcoming their troubled home lives and competing in a ballroom dance-off where they’ve infused the fox trot with hip-hop free-styling intensity. The choreography and music are enough to hold viewers’ attention, but it’s truly Banderas’ charm and screen presence that take the lead.

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