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    SUBJECTS — Dance; World/Australia;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Breaking Out; Talent; Families in Crisis;

    Age: 9+; MPAA Rating -- PG for mild language and sensuality; Comedy; 1992; 94 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     This hilarious comedy will inspire young people to develop their talents to the fullest, show the complex relationships that can develop in a family, and demonstrate the self-interest that can pervert institutions from their apparent purposes.

    We can't say enough good things about this film. How about: "It's one of the ten best films ever made." "It's a film that can lead people to transform their lives." "It has multiple layers of meaning. Each time you see it (and it's entertaining on the 10th or the 20th viewing), you see can something new." "Strictly Ballroom" is so powerful and engaging that it can transform lives by awakening an interest in dance in the most unlikely places. Entire families, ages eight to sixty love this film.

    The plot revolves around Scott, 17 or 18 years of age, whose family helps run a ballroom dance studio in a working class neighborhood in an Australian town. Scott's mother was once a national ballroom dance champion and now teaches. Scott has also won awards for his dancing and everyone hopes that he will win the national championship this year. But on the way to the finals several unexpected events occur ....

    Possible Problems:    None.

    Parenting Points:     Describe flamenco dance and its origins to your child. See the Helpful Background section. Show where Australia is on a map or globe and where Spain is. Immediately after the movie, or at odd times over the next week (for example at the dinner table or in the car on the way to school) bring up one of the Discussion Questions, starting with the Quick Discussion Question in the sidebar. Help your child with the answers.

    Benefits of the Movie:     In addition to the benefits described above, "Strictly Ballroom" will also introduce children to the world of competitive ballroom dancing and to flamenco. We know of one boy who discovered a strong interest in flamenco dancing by watching this film. Others have become fascinated with ballroom dancing.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Why did Shirley fear that she and Doug would not be able to earn a living if Doug's "new steps" became popular? Or, asked another way: Why was it so important to Barry Fife and the Federation that there be no "new steps?"

Suggested Response: The dance teachers who made up the Federation would not be experts in the "new steps" and their ability to earn a living would be threatened.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  1992 Australian Film Institute: Best Film, Best Director (Luhrmann), Best Supporting Actor (Otto), Best Supporting Actress (Thomsen), Best Writing, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, 1994 Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Film-Musical Comedy.

      Featured Actors:  Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thompson, Barry Otto, Gia Carides, Peter Whitford, John Hannan, Sonia Kruger-Tayler, Kris McQuade, Pip Mushin, Leonie Page, Antonio Vargas, Armonia Benedito.

      Director:  Baz Luhrmann

BUILDING VOCABULARY: rumba, pan-Pacific, "bend your ear;" "a tick" (as in a tick of the clock, a short period of time); "for better or for worse."

    Helpful Background:

    Flamenco is a form of music and dance which is traditional to the gypsies of Andalusia, a province in Southern Spain. Intricate toe-heel clicking steps and a high, tense, relatively still upper body characterize flamenco danced by men. This is complimented by graceful body and hand movements of female flamenco dancers. The melody of the song and the movements of the dancers are improvised within a traditional framework. Flamenco is now usually performed with guitar accompaniment and castanets, although these have only been adopted in the last 100 years. There are serious and light flamenco dances. In the serious dances the performer seeks "duende," to be transformed by the depth of the emotion.

    Flamenco is currently enjoying a worldwide renaissance with increased popularity and innovative approaches to the classical forms of the dance.

For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  Why didn't Scott's father dance in public any more?

    3.  What were the Spanish gypsies doing in Australia?

    4.  Is competitive ballroom dancing a sport or an art form?

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.


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    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.  What happened to this family as a result of the secret that no one talked about? What does this tell us about secrets in families?


    2.  Flamenco is very different from ballroom dancing. If Scott has closed his mind to the beauty of flamenco, what would he have lost?

    3.  Should Scott have "put his trust in the Federation" as Les suggested?

    4.  If Scott had abandoned his new steps and conformed to the pressure from the Federation, what would have eventually happened to his interest in dance?

    5.  Did Scott's character and his interest in dance most resemble his mother's or his father's?


Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.


    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    1.  In this film most of the characters thought that Fran, because of her inexperience, was not capable of being a partner for Scott. They were wrong. What does this tell you about how you should behave towards others?


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

    Bridges to Reading: None.
  MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: Shall We Dance recounts the experiences of a male Japanese office worker who becomes interested in ballroom dance.

    Bibliography:    None.

    Last updated December 17, 2009.

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