“Six Dance Lessons” a Lovely Florida Idyll
By Skip Sheffield
“Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” is a delightful little comedy shot in St. Petersburg, Florida, starring the great Gena Rowlands.
The script is written by Florida native Richard Alfieri, based on his play. Director Allan Seidelman previously collaborated with Alfieri on “The Sisters,” which was a 2005 re-telling of Chekov’s “The Three Sisters.”
“Six Dance Lessons” is aimed squarely at an older, mostly female audience. The opening scene was shot at the ornate, historic Don CeSar Resort on St. Petersburg beach. Inside we see ballroom dancing with mostly older women dancing with mostly much younger men.
Lily Harrison (Rowlands) is just such an older woman. She was widowed five years ago, and despite living in a waterfront condo with a million-dollar view, she is at loose ends. So she calls a dance studio and asks if they have private instruction. She doesn’t want to be embarrassed as a rank amateur.
Michael Minetti (Cheyenne Jackson) is a recent hire at the studio. Mrs. Harrison is assigned as his first client.
Neither Lily nor Michael is upfront about who they really are. Mrs. Harrison pretends her beloved husband is still alive. Michael says he needs money to support his wife.
Michael gets off on the wrong foot by demanding is $100 fee up front, then backing off with “just kidding.”
“Six Dance Lessons” is one of those stories in which two antagonists slowly make concessions and begin to respect and even like each other.
Michael is gay. I have known professional dance instructors of that persuasion. It is not uncommon. Some hetero male instructors are also seducers. Some women like to be seduced. Lily is not one of those women.
I’m sure there are many women in Boca Raton and Delray Beach who can relate and identify with this scenario. You can’t get much better than Gena Rowlands, still beautiful at age 75 and capable of playing haughty and vulnerable with equal conviction. Cheyenne Jackson is charming and funny with just the right amount of desperation. It’s an ideal match in an idyll beautifully shot by noted cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond.