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Strictly Ballroom (1992)

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clip 'I want to dance with you' education content clip 2, 3

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Scott (Paul Mercurio) dances alone while Fran (Tara Morice) watches from a hidden vantage point. She tells him that she likes his rule-breaking style and wants to partner him at the Pan Pacific championships.

Curator’s notes

Strictly Ballroom is a modern fairytale. Fran is the ugly duckling dance student no-one notices. Scott is the princely son of a dancing dynasty who has been groomed for greatness. Everyone criticises Scott for wanting to break the conventions of ballroom dancing except Fran. Her support and brave declaration of wanting to partner Scott sets the romance of the 'commoner’ and the 'royal’ in motion.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows Scott alone in a studio performing his individual style of dancing in front of the mirror, unaware that Fran, a shy dance student, is secretly watching him. Scott uses every part of this private space to practise, accompanied by an upbeat rhythmic soundtrack. His free-form choreography contrasts markedly with the ‘strictly ballroom’ rules of the dancing world. Fran approaches Scott with an ambitious plan to partner with him at the Pan Pacific championships, and to dance ‘his way’. Scott is incredulous.

Educational value points

  • This clip shows an important turning point in the film when Scott (Paul Mercurio) reveals that he wants to free himself from the strictures of ballroom dancing and explore the artistry of his own dance form. His free-form choreography contrasts markedly with the ‘strictly ballroom’ rules that he secretly wants to challenge. Fran (Tara Morice) watches his performance and suggests her longed-for dance partnership with him.
  • In keeping with the fairytale trope, or theme, Fran is presented in this clip as the ‘ugly duckling’. Plain-looking and awkward, she is enthralled by Scott, who is presented as the ‘swan’ – graceful, poised and self-assured on the dance floor. Luhrmann sets the scene for Fran’s transformation when Fran declares her desire to partner Scott at the Pan Pacific Grand Prix, creating the opportunity for change.
  • This clip features a typical Luhrmann theme, a couple struggling against the odds. Scott is determined to challenge the rules he has been warned to abide by and Fran shows her belief in him when she says ‘I want to dance with you, your way’. Fran has to overcome her lack of dance experience and her ungraceful manner to partner Scott and to win the respect of the ballroom-dancing world at the Pan Pacific championships.
  • Scott and Fran are depicted as opposites in this clip, on the verge of forming an unlikely dance partnership. The enormous physicality and adventurousness of Scott’s dancing and his smooth looks contrast with Fran, who appears shy and gawky, and whose dancing, it could be assumed, is clumsy and awkward also. Fran appears courageous, even foolhardy, in telling Scott that she wants to dance creatively with him in the competition.
  • Various film techniques are used to create the drama of Strictly Ballroom, and some of the techniques are seen in this clip. Close-up and wide-angled shots focus on Scott as the dancer, alone in his world, viewed from and towards the perspective of the mirror. The light flooding the studio illuminates the dancer and his energy. The editing shows Fran as the voyeur gradually emerging from the opening in the doorway into the expanse of Scott’s private world.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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