Movies, Travel

Only When I Dance

December 29, 2010
Flavelas of Rio de Janeiro
(Last Updated On: May 10, 2018)

If you’ve been reading my blog or following my tweets for a while, you’ll already know how much I love Brazil and documentaries. When my love for both is combined in a Brazilian documentary, I’m a very happy woman!  Since coming home from my Eastern European vacation, I’ve not only had the pleasure of finishing off a new novel Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia, I’ve been able to watch Only When I Dance.

Only When I Dance, is a  Brazilian documentary by director Beadie Finzi, about two young  ballet dancers from troubled neighborhoods within Rio de Janeiro. The film explores their attempts to become successful within the mostly European world of ballet.

Flavelas of Rio de Janeiro

Flavelas of Rio de Janeiro

Previous reviews on the documentary are lukewarm and I find myself agreeing with what critics have said. See in particular, a review from Slate Magazine. Although there are lovely moments captured on film, the director fails to explore certain themes that could have made the documentary a much better piece.

Despite this, it’s worth watching. You’ll fall in love with Irlan and Isabela. While Irlan’s promising journey is an absolute joy to watch, Isabela’s journey is fraught with sadness.  Her heartbreak becomes yours.

My favorite moments:

  1. Anytime Irlan’s father talks about his son. His love for his son is evident.
  2. Irlan’s interpretation of a modern dance piece at a competition in Switzerland. Amazing!
  3. The love and support Isabela’s family gives to her as they go through great lengths to raise the needed funds to enable her ballet career.

Plot Summary from IMDB:

Defying the idea that ballet is an art form steeped in the history of the wealthy white elite, this documentary captures the dreams of two black children from the Favela in Brazil, who, despite constant prejudice and doubt, are both determined to beat the odds and follow their dreams to use dancing as an escape rarely found in their tough day to day lives.



  1. Film Movement –
  2. IMDB –
  3. Official Site –
  4. Slant Magazine –
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1 Comment

  • Reply Ayngelina December 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Sounds like a great documentary, I will be ‘borrowing’ this from the Internet tonight.

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