Set in the cut-throat world of competitive dance, my film explores the relationship between teenage dancer (Devin), best friend (Jae) and their coach, the hard-boiled ex-professional 'Sal'. The ‘DanceStar’ Team are up against the formidable ‘En-Pointe Studios’ in the championship final. The odds are stacked against them. Inevitably, Sal pushes the team hard, relying on his favourite dancer Jae to headline every routine. When Devin asks to be given a shot, she is immediately shut down. But when Jae breaks her ankle, it’s up to Devin to perform the solo. However unexpectedly, and in no small part to Devin’s semi-improvised solo, ‘DanceStar’ wins the championship receiving the highest point score in the club’s history. The team is overjoyed, but when Devin looks to Sal for affirmation, he merely critiques her technique and insults the changes she made to his routine. With support from Jae, Devin refuses to be broken by Sal, and the friends dance a surreal celebration of their sisterhood. Inspired by ‘Dance Moms’, ‘Cheer’ and classic sports movies, the film explores the thin lines between friendship and rivalry, childhood and adulthood and training and abuse.
The film is inspired by the relationship between David, Saul and Johnathan in 1 Samuel 15 to 18. The David and Goliath story is often referenced as the a simple underdog story, often forgetting the complicated relationships that David had with his Israelite countrymen. I’m interested in the different ways that a community might react to the underdog’s struggles and successes. Will you support the underdog’s successes like Jonathan (“Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” Samuel 18), or feel jealous and undermined like Saul. When David offers to fight Goliath, Saul replies "You are only a young man, and he has been a warrior since his youth." Then when Saul is out of danger, after Goliath is killed and the Philistine army has fled, Saul remains suspicious and jealous of David 'They have credited David with tens of thousands,'... 'but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ (1 Samuel 18), before attempting to kill him in 1 Samuel 19. Even though his future is saved by David, Saul feels emasculated. I’m interested in the ways that these behaviours relate to ideas of contemporary mentorship, power and gender.