Only When I Dance

Can they dance their way out of the favelas?

Produced by Giorgia lo Savio and Nikki Parrott

One girl and one boy, both black and poor, are planning to dance their way out of one of the most violent favelas in Rio de Janerio. Granted scholarships to train at the Centro de Dança Rio, one of the most prestigious ballet schools in Brazil, Isabela and Irlan’s natural talent for ballet is about to transform their lives

Only When I Dance follows the two as they prepare to compete at the prestigious international ballet competitions in Lausanne and New York, where they hope to be spotted by talent scouts. But is pure talent enough to overcome their circumstances and gain them a place at one of the best international dance companies, thus granting them access to the elite world of classical ballet? Isabela’s familystruggles to raise the money for the competition and the flights to the US. Irlan is lucky to have a mentor who will pay for his travel, but his rigorous training schedule means that he is falling behind in school, and may not get the grades he will need to be able to join a foreign dance company. This documentary follows the pair at monumental turning point in their  lives. Only When I Dance is Mad Hot Ballroom meets Billy Elliot, set in the favelas of Rio. A classic coming of age narrative — it is about chasing a dream to dance the most perfect dance against all the odds of race and of circumstance.


An unforgettable experience  **** The Guardian The Brazilian Billy Elliott  **** Heat Magazine Remarkable  **** The Times Compelling **** The Sunday Telegraph


Official Competition, Tribeca Film Festival Official Competition, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009 Official Selection, Silverdocs Nomination, Rose D’Or Official Selection, Vancouver Film Festival 2009 Official Selection, Rio Film Festival Official Selection, Warsaw Film Festival 2009 Official Selection, Sheffield DocFest International Film Festival 2009