“Filmed and directed” by Beadie Finzi, “Only When I Dance” is a gorgeous-at-moments clear-headed documentary, small in its aims and scope, yet staking a take on class and race by examining dance in modern-day Brazil. Compassion meets passion: Finzi follows Irlan and Isabela, a pair of young students from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to unlikely success. 14-year-old Isabela, for instance, would be the first black ballerina in a Brazilian company. Referring to the world around her, she says “Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, it’s always dance, dance, dance.” It’s tender, their dreams of culture beyond their own rich landscape; the triumphant moment against the Manhattan skyline is not without precedent, but lovely nonetheless. With Irlan Santos da Silva, Isabela Santos, Mariza Estrella. 78m. HDCAM video. (Ray Pride)
“Only When I Dance” opens Friday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.