June 15, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

“And Then We Danced” Sweden’s Entry for Best International Film

By Beverly Cohn

Under the deft, delicate hand of Swedish director Levan Akin, who is of Georgian descent And Then We Danced is a tender love story that combines the long-standing tradition of exciting Georgian folk dancing, which just about every child learns growing up, with the awakening of forbidden feelings that could result in violence and ostracization from one’s peer group.

Young Merab, exquisitely acted and danced by Levan Gelbakhiani, grew up in a family of dancers, beginning with his grandfather and grandmother, who danced at La Scala, and later passed down the tradition to his now divorced mother and father. Dancing since he started walking, this gifted dancer is enrolled in a dance class in Tbilisi, under the strict, almost cruel direction of Aliko, wonderfully played by Kakha Gogidze who has no tolerance for anything but sheer perfection. Merab trains vigorously in the hopes of some day being accepted into the most prestigious dance company in Georgia – the National Georgian Ballet. His dance partner in the extremely complex, heart-thumping routines is Mary, another wonderfully skilled dancer played by Ana Javakishvili. Both on the dance floor and socially, they are the best of friends and although Mary would like to take their relationship to the next level, something holds Merab back from such a commitment. Unfortunately, every family has one problem child and his older brother David, well played by Giorgi Tsereteli, fits the bill as the son who drinks and gambles and fails to show up to dance class consistently and eventually is thrown out of the rehearsals. One day, a new dancer named Irakli, sensually played and danced by Bachi Valishvili, joins the ensemble. Merab is mesmerized by his dancing and new feelings arise inside of him, which he doesn’t know how to process.

Ana Javakishvili as Mary and Ana Makharadze as Sopo in “And Then We Danced.”

With his family finances in short supply, Merab contributes to the upkeep of their extremely modest home by turning over his meager salary and occasional tips earned working at a local restaurant where he packs up leftovers and brings them home for dinner. His grandmother basically runs the household as his mother sleeps away most of the day. Although there is almost abject poverty, the family dynamic is warm, affectionate, and supportive. With their electricity turned off because of lack of payment, in what David considers a grand gesture, he arrives home with enough cash to turn the lights back on, but the source of this income is dubious.

Back at the studio, feeling both threatened and attracted to the new, sexy dancer, Merab shows up early every day to practice the very complex, physically demanding routines. Not only is he fascinated by this Adonis of a man with a “bad boy” air about him, he is also in competition with him for that coveted spot with the National Georgian Ballet. Bypassing Mary, the dance master teams the two of them up where they dance a routine fraught with sexuality at the end of which he warns, “There is no sexuality in Georgian dance.” Eventually the two of them make the cut and will audition for that prized spot.

Illuminating the fun, carefree spirit of these young dancers, some of them are invited to spend a weekend at Mary’s lovely home in the country. Swedish cinematographer Lisabi Fridell beautifully captures the fun scenes of free form dancing, lots of smoking, and a wonderful outdoor picnic where the dancers are seated at a long table ladened with fabulous ethnic food, which by the way, we see throughout the film. Mary always offers her cigarettes, which she says are from London because “The Georgian cigarettes are cigarettes the Europeans won’t smoke.” It is during this fun-filled weekend that Merab and Irakli connect in a most tender physical resolution and Merab is free at last to admit to himself the truth of his sexuality. But when Irakli strangely disappears, Merab’s dancing is severely impacted and some of the other dancers now refer to him as a “homo.” When Irakli finally resurfaces, his truth is not something this young dancer was expecting. In one of the most dramatic scenes in the film, Merab auditions for the slot, and his pulsating, heartbreaking dancing will leave you breathless.

L-R: Bachi Valishvili as Irakli, Levan Gelbakhiani as Merab and an unidentified dancer in And Then We Danced

Director Akin has directed this film with deep attention to the life and times of these teenagers capturing the hearts and souls of this highly gifted group of dancers who are also outstanding actors – sometimes a difficult combination to achieve. He shot the love scenes between Merab and Irakli in the most exquisite, highly artistic manner leaving to one’s imagination exactly what was transpiring. For the tender Merab, this is his first homosexual experience, forbidden in an ultraconservative country, and we see the angst of a first love and the innocence, excitement, and ultimate disappointment from that ever so brief encounter.

Presented by: Music Box Films
Distribution: Music Box Films & Totem Films
Production Companies: French Quarter Film, Takes Film, RMV Film, Inland Film, Ama Productions, SVT
Written & Directed by: Levan Akin
Produced by: Mathilde Dedye, Ketie Danelia
Cinematography: Lisabi Fridell
Editor: Levan Akin, Simon Carlgren
Music: Zviad Mgebry & Ben Wheeler
Set Designer: Teo Baramidze
Sound Editing: Beso Kacharava
Costume Designer: Nini Jincharadze
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Principal Cast List: Levan Gelbakhiani (Merab,) Bachi Valishvili (Irakli,)
Ana Javakishvili (Mary), Giorgi Tsereteli (David,) Kakha Gogidze (Aliko,)
Ana Makharadze (Sopo)
Genre: Feature Film
Language: Georgian (English Sub-Titles)
Rating: Unrated

Related Posts

LA Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme – E.P.I.C Pride Show, June 9th, 2021

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – LA Pride Announces “Thrive With...

The Abbey Food & Bar Celebrates 30 Years

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

On May 23rd The Abbey Food & Bar celebrated 30 years since its founding in May 1991. The Abbey has...

Artists Featured For SaMo Pride Rainbow Road Art Walk

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

In honor of Pride month Santa Monica Pride (SaMo Pride) will feature a Rainbow Road Art Walk from June 4th-...

Railway Service Coming To WeHo

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Metro rail service might be coming to the city of West Hollywood.  The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)...

LGBTQ Owned High Hemp Features First Organic Hemp Wrap

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

High Hemp features the world’s first ever organic hemp wrap which is revolutionizing the cannabis industry by offering a cleaner...

Michael Mayo Finds Freedom on Debut Album “Bones”

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Bisexual rising vocalist, songwriter and instrumentalist Michael Mayo will be debuting his newest album.  Mayo’s genre-defying, highly personal debut solo...

James Charles Admits To Messaging Under Age Boys- E.P.I.C Pride Show, May 19th, 2021

May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – James Charles Admits To Messaging...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Demi Lavato Comes Out As Pansexual- E.P.I.C Pride Show, May 12th, 2021

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – Demi Lavato Comes Out As...

WeHo Celebrates Asian American History Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid hate crimes on the rise against Asian Americans on the rise WeHo Reads 2021 season is Creating Hollywood...

Patrick O’Connell, AIDS Activist, Dead At 67

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Patrick O’Connell, a venerable AIDS activist and creator of the iconic red ribbon creating awareness about the disease, has died...

WeHo Celebrating ‘Senior Month’

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

For more than two decades, the City of West Hollywood has organized an annual series of activities to engage its...

Los Angeles Becomes First No-Kill City For Animals – E.P.I.C Pride Show, May 5th, 2021

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. – Los Angeles Becomes First No-Kill...

Thinking About Moving? Think About Your Pets First

May 1, 2021

May 1, 2021

Moving to a new home is no easy task, especially if you have pets. In general, they aren’t too fond...

Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire For Admitting To Driving Under The Influence

April 30, 2021

April 30, 2021

Ellen DeGeneres is under fire for admitting to driving wife Portia DeRossi to the hospital while under the influence.  While...