'Shall We Dance' teaches self-expression in a conservative world

Pac.mercyhurst.edu photo: Shohei Sugiyama is inspired to take dance lessons to spice up his monotonous life.Pac.mercyhurst.edu photo: Shohei Sugiyama is inspired to take dance lessons to spice up his monotonous life.This week’s film in the Guelcher Film Series teaches us that desire is a boundless force.

“Shall We Dance” is a Japanese film directed by Masayuki Suo, released in 1996.

It tells the story of Shohei Sugiyama, a successful accountant who lives with his family in a prosperous suburban area.

Despite having a seemingly fulfilling life, Shohei feels an emptiness and loss of direction brought about by a monotonous daily routine.

One night, while traveling home, Shohei sees the captivating face of Mia Kishikawa, a recognized figure in the Western ballroom dance world, looking out from the balcony of a dance school.

He is intrigued by this image and decides to visit the dance studio.

The plot of the film starts to unfold when Shohei enrolls himself in ballroom dance lessons every Wednesday night.

He keeps his newfound hobby a secret, as it is considered inappropriate according to Japanese society to engage in such practice.

Shohei’s involvement in ballroom dancing provides him with a fresh channel of self-expression that had been absent in his life.

Under the tutelage of his teacher and with practice and persistence he becomes an accomplished dancer.

Eventually, Tamura encourages Shohei to partake in a national amateur competition.
Shohei’s wife notices her husband’s unusually happy behavior and hires a private eye to investigate if he is having an affair.

Upon learning the truth of her husband’s attitude, she attempts to be supportive.

Shohei is taken aback when he spots his family sitting in the audience at the dance competition.
Although, Shohei does not win the competition, his life is changed by ballroom dancing.

Upon its release, “Shall We Dance” won 14 Japanese Academy Awards.

In 2004, an American remake of the film was assembled featuring actors Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez.

The Chicago Post claims that “Shall We Dance” is a completely entertaining movie, with a well-crafted character study.

“Shall We Dance” will be shown on Wednesday, Dec. 14, in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m.

Tickets are free for Mercyhurst students with an ID.