I find it takes guts to follow your heart when everyone around you is afraid of rocking the boat.
Last night I watched one of my favourite films, Strictly Ballroom, which, for me, represents what it means to follow my heart regardless.
Scott Hastings, a talented ballroom dancer wants to do his own steps, which would mean breaking the Australian Dance Federation rules. Scott’s mother is dead set against him doing his own steps because she knows he will end up losing the competition. Scott’s partner, Liz Holt, is not very keen on dancing new steps either. She ends up dumping Scott and links up with Ken Railings, who is very popular with the Australian Dance Federation judges. There is now only three weeks until the next big competition. Will Scott find a suitable partner in time?
Scott’s dream of dancing his own steps comes true instantly in the form of plain-Jane beginner, Fran, who has been Scott’s secret admirer for a long time. Fran proposes to be his new dance partner. She says she’s prepared to dance his way; she’s used to making up her own steps anyway.
This is Scott’s first test. When the chips are down, can he live up to his principles?
Scott is not very impressed that a beginner like Fran would dare to approach a professional dancer like himself. He refuses to consider the idea. Fran tells him he’s like all the others who are too scared to break the norm. She calls him a “gutless wonder.” Scott realises that Fran is right so he decides to give her a chance.
Fran and Scott arrange secret meetings every day so they can practise dancing his way. In the meantime, Scott pretends he’s still looking for a partner and continues to audition prospective candidates. Scott’s mother, Shirley is getting stressed about him not finding a partner. After many hours of practice, Scott decides Fran is ready. Just as he’s about to introduce Fran as his new dancing partner, Scott discovers that the Australian Dance Federation have paired him up with Tina Sparkle, a former champion, whose current partner is about to retire from dancing.
This is Scott’s second test – what is more important: winning or being true to himself. Although Fran is very upset with the Federation’s decision, she knows that Scott has a good chance of winning with Tina Sparkle. Scott feels really torn because he’s been dreaming of winning the completion since he was a child. He’s also falling in love with Fran. While he’s deciding he has a dance with Fran. That is when the ballroom community discover that Scott has been secretly dancing with Fran, the beginner.
Scott’s mother, Shirley, steps in. There’s no way she wants her son to miss out on such a wonderful opportunity to dance with Tina Sparkle. She convinces Fran that she should back off and let Scott dance with Tina.
Scott comes to a decision and goes to Fran’s house to tell her that he wants to dance his own steps with her, even if it means not winning the competition. When Scott meets Fran’s parents and friends who are Spanish, he soon realises that their Paso Doble routine they have been practising is not up to scratch. Fran’s parents teach them how to dance it from the heart.
While Scott has been running around trying to get himself prepared for the completion, there is a subplot involving his father, Ken, a man who is constantly being bullied by his wife, Shirley. He lets her get her way just for an easy life. The only time he’s happy is when he is dancing, which he does in secret.
The next test to Scott’s dreams comes from Barry Fife, the President of the Australian Dance Federation, who has been trying to make Scott follow the rules. In one scene, Barry challenges Scott, “Where would we all be if everyone made up their own steps?”
“You would be out of a job,” Scott replies.
Barry comes up with an excellent plan to get Scott back on the Federation side. He tells Scott a story about his dad, Ken. Apparently in the late sixties, Ken and Shirley used to be brilliant ballroom dancers and they even won competitions. According to Barry, Ken became self-obsessed and wanted to do his own steps. He and Shirley ended up losing the completion. Since then, Ken hasn’t been able to dance. This is news to Scott because he’s always believed his dad doesn’t dance. Scott now has another dilemma: dance his own steps and repeat his father’s mistakes or follow the rules and make his parents proud. He decides to follow the rules and links up with his former partner, Liz Holt.
Scott’s decision to play by the rules leaves Fran very angry and frustrated. Scott tries to explain why he’s made that decision. He says it’s very hard from him but Fran is not interested. She calls him a “gutless wonder” for not following his dreams. It is then Scott’s father intervenes and tells him the real story. Ken never did get the opportunity to do his own steps because Shirley was too frightened of the consequences. She decided to dance with someone else who she believed would help win them the completion. They lost anyway. Ken tells Scott that since then they’ve been living in fear. At that moment, Scott decides he would rather be true to himself.
Scott asks Fran if she would still like to dance with him and she says yes. They end up doing the Paso Doble their way. That’s when all hell breaks loose. Barry, the President of the Federation, is furious. His girlfriend switches off the music and Barry tells Fran and Scott that they have been disqualified. Ken, starts to clap, which is his way of encouraging Scott and Fran to dance anyway with or without the music. Scott and Fran follow the rhythm in their hearts and dance until the music is switched back on.
In the final scene, Ken walks over to Shirley and asks her for a dance, which he hasn’t done publicly in a very long time. It’s as if the spell of fear he’s been under for so long has been broken. Everyone gets on the dance floor and they dance to the song “Love is in the air.”
I believe making up your steps represent being true to yourself and following your heart. Someone who follows their heart is a threat to the status quo. For instance, if you are capable of getting guidance from Source, why would you need to look to a teacher? This leaves the teacher potentially out of a job and the education system at risk. The teacher will do all he can to convince you how much you need him. This is when you have to decide who you really are.
Are you a gutless wonder?