Dance With Me - * * 1/2*

In Dance With Me, you get just what you expect. A dance film, with a little romance thrown in to spice things up, and not much more. However, the sizzling dances make up for what the plot lacks in imagination.

After the death of his mother, Rafael Infante (Chayanne) decides to journey from Cuba to Texas. An old friend of his mother, John Burnette (Kris Kristofferson), owns a dance studio there, and is willing to give him a job and a place to stay.

Working as a handyman at the studio, Rafael meets Ruby (Vanessa L. Williams), an instructor and professional dancer (specializing in the Latin dances). She’s split from her former partner/boyfriend Julian (Rick Valenzuela), and is now struggling to climb back to the top.

As the deadline to the National Finals looms closer, hints of romance begin to bloom between Rafael and Ruby. But she’s got no time or use for love, and Rafael struggles to prove differently…

As a dance film, Dance With Me falls into a predictable pattern visited before in such films as Strictly Ballroom, and Shall We Dance?. There are few surprises here.

But, there is dancing. And most of it is quite good. Vanessa Williams gets a chance to show her moves, and she’s got plenty. Chayanne is no slouch here, but it is clear that Williams is the star.

The emerging romance between Rafael and Ruby isn’t handled poorly, but it’s far from the high point in the film. Part of the problem is that the interaction of the couple can’t quite compete with the passion of the dancing…so the romance gets left in the cold.

The subplots in Dance With Me vary in quality. Rafael’s search for his father is a little predictable, and mostly diverting from the rest of the film. However, the antics of the studio’s various dance students (including an unlikely Joan Plowright) are slightly amusing.

On the whole, Dance With Me is enjoyable simply for its dancing scenes. The surrounding clutter neither enhances nor detracts from the simple pleasures of the movie.

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