Lads do football… or boxing… or wrestling. Not friggin’ ballet.Billy Elliot (2000)
Santo Domingo does not move, it dances. It’s a curse not to have the hip looseness or the rhythm to devour any melody that gets in the way. Worse still is being born with two left feet, a group in which I include myself, and for which I imagine there is a special place in purgatory. Before Santo Domingo Waltz (2021) shows the lines of the speech, it has already tanned us with music and folklore. It sets the stage perfectly; the frame of reference is powerful and sustains the narrative from start to finish.
Raymundo, Víctor and Ángel do not have to fight against the stereotypes of a secluded mining town in London as did the Billy that Stephen Daldry created from fiction. Our protagonists have it worse. Not from fiction but from pure and hard reality, they must face Caribbean Island stereotypes in a country that does not forgive their pliés. If it were merengue, salsa, son or reggaeton, the judges would not be so severe, but the fact that they have decided on ballet is inexcusable. Director Tatiana Fernández Geara (Nana) lets us see the world of these three friends who are the only boys in a ballet class.
Let’s dance something else
Camera in hand, the director herself captures the images in their purest state. Her presence contaminates very little the moments in which Raymundo, Víctor and Ángel talk about their dreams, frustrations, and fears. Dance unites them and is both a tool that helps them discover themselves and find order in the chaos that surrounds them. The script is born from the camera and is defined with the edition of Juanjo Cid (El Editor Cuir). What is achieved from the direction and editing is impressive, but the stories of these three musketeers are even more impressive. Emotion’s rush, we go from intense laughter to tears without warning, and we feel vulnerable. With every minute we are connecting more with the protagonists and their destiny matters to us.
Santo Domingo Waltz undresses us and shows us the shortcomings that have accompanied us for years. From the perspective of three children, we can understand the thinking and actions of an entire society. Tatiana Fernández Geara has found a way to touch the most sensitive nerves of this half-island. Nana (2015), which was her debut, is another documentary that also moves us to reflect while closely observing another reality of our country.
As we chase after Raymundo, Víctor and Ángel we meet three different narrative lines, they converge in the ballroom and that’s where we see them unadorned. But beyond that there is another reality that is that of their families and their environment, there the story shows other more intense nuances until it leads us to a poetic ending for a perfect closure.
Dominican cinema has had interesting proposals in recent years, and it is in documentaries where it has found more fresh air.