Teaching the prescribed text · Explanation on background information (context, purpose and audience) Context The screenplay of Strictly Ballroom was written by Baz Luhrmann and Andrew Bovell. The film was directed by Baz Luhrmann, and was well received internationally when it was released in 1992. Since Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrmann has directed two other internationally successful films—Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge—and, at time of print, was directing Australia. He is known for his artistic and innovative cinematic styles which blend film techniques from Hollywood musicals and dance films with more traditional techniques. Explanation of key terms (see above) · Analysis of how the text relates to belonging Rebellion, exclusion and true ‘belonging’ The film opens at the Waratah Championships for ballroom dancing where Scott Hastings dares to dance his own steps, dazzling the audience with his samba routine. Those who value tradition—mainly his mother, his dance coach Les Kendall, and Barry Fife—abhor his behaviour. They are united in their opposition to Scott’s rebellion and prevent him from exploring his individuality, because the traditional world of ballroom dancing gives them a sense of belonging, and they do not wish for this to change.Order now
Changing the established order is difficult, because people in power make the rules and are responsible for ensuring they are followed. Therefore when Scott dances his own steps he is disqualified and prevented from participating in the competition. He is excluded from the group and his sense of belonging is devastated. · Students answer the question: How do you relate your prescribed text to belonging? · Explanation of Text structure Text structure The film can be divided into four parts. Part 1
The traditional values of the ballroom dancing world are established though the opening scene at the Waratah Championships for ballroom dancing where Scott Hastings dances his own steps during the samba. His partner, Liz Holt, walks out on him and Fran, an unlikely candidate, offers to be his dance partner. The love story is thus established between the handsome, competent dance champion and the plain, professionally untrained daughter of a Spanish migrant. She entices Scott to dance with her because she understands how he dances. Explanation of Characters Scott Hastings: Scott is youthful, handsome and a champion dancer, and has many opportunities ahead of him. At first he is portrayed as arrogant, especially in his treatment of Fran. He is obviously a talented dancer, but is bored with the routine way he has been taught to dance. He challenges his mother and the Dance Federation when they insist he follows established conventions. He undergoes a transformation through his relationships with Fran and her family, as he learns the value of family spirit and dancing from the heart. Character activity – analyzing what quotes tell the reader about the character and belonging Character quote What the quote tells you about the character and belonging Liz: I don’t think! I don’t give a shit about them, we lost! Liz represents the dominant values of those who belong to the ballroom dancing world – follow established rules in order to win. Winning is the priority – not thinking for yourself or consideration of others. · Explanation of Setting and modeled response Scene: The living room of Scott’s home
Mood: This is a domestic setting which at first appears warm and inviting. Trophies are proudly displayed on the back wall. It becomes clear from Shirley’s outrage about her son’s unconventional steps at the Waratah Championships, however, that her priority is winning, not her son’s self-expression. This is further illustrated by the large number of trophies occupying the cabinet. Arguments take place in the living room, too, which shows that the family is not as close as the setting would suggest. Explanation and analysis of various language and visual techniques and modeled responses Symbolism: Dancing shoes How it relates to belonging: In the scene in which Rico challenges Scott to dance the paso doble, there are close-ups of Scott’s shoes while he dances. When Ya Ya asks him to show her where he feels the rhythm, the camera focuses on Scott’s shoes. The viewer becomes aware that Scott’s motivation to dance comes from learning the intricacies of making the steps, which is what has made him belong in the rigid ballroom dancing world.
When Ya Ya taps his chest to show him where the rhythm should come from, we understand that he has a lot to learn from Spanish culture. Dancing shoes are also shown in close-up when Scott dances, especially when he dances his own way, illustrating his freedom and individual expression, and his rebellion against a restrictive type of ‘belonging’. · Key scene analysis To gain a better understanding of how language and visual techniques work together to create meaning, it is a good idea to analyse a few key scenes from the text.
Activity Make notes about a key scene in Strictly Ballroom, taking into account: • film techniques and dialogue • examples of the techniques from the text • analysis of how these examples relate to belonging. Then write a full analysis of the scene and its techniques, and their relation to belonging. Modeled response Many scenes in ‘Strictly Ballroom’ represent the ideas of the true spirit of love, family and belonging, in contrast to the false values and superficiality of belonging to the ballroom dancing world.
One key scene is when Scott goes to the Toledo Milk Bar to ask Fran to dance with him at the Pan Pacific Grand Prix. Fran’s father challenges Scott to dance the paso doble, and they move to the backyard where chairs are askew, streamers are falling down and colourful lanterns hang from the roof. The lighting is low-key and the atmosphere is romantic, warm and inviting. In this environment, Scott is ridiculed for not dancing from the heart. Close-ups of people laughing are juxtaposed with long shots of Fran and Scott dancing, showing that the onlookers are laughing at the way he dances.