France | 94 MINUTES
THE DANCE CHALLENGE
Set on the streets of Paris, this dynamic musical comedy brings us an original mélange of classic Hollywood musical storytelling and France's growing hip-hop movement. World-renowned choreographer Blanca Li, who also wrote and directed, plays Elena, an ex-dancer, single mother, and owner of a posh Paris boutique, whose teenage son David (Benjamin Chaouat) has one passion: to lead his group of hip-hop street dancers to victory in a club competition that will propel them to the world finals in New York. When David runs away from home, Elena abandons her career and goes on a hilarious adventure that takes her out of her luxurious surroundings and into the streets and clubs of Paris. She soon finds herself wooed by Manzon (Marco Prince), the young DJ of her son's rival troupe; her dormant dancing skills are reborn as she blends her classical style with hip-hop (exactly as Li has done in her own dance career); and she shocks her son by meeting him in the final. Will the Challenge drive them further apart, or finally bring them together? What sets this nouveau-musical apart from recent American counterparts like Save the Last Dance are the brilliantly choreographed dance sequences that suddenly burst forth mid-scene with beautiful energy, harking back to the golden age of musicals Li obviously adores. Additional kudos go to Li for addressing class issues, and for positively representing the cultural diversity of French urban youth. The invigorating street choreography will have audiences of all ages dancing in their seats.