In a classroom, a little boy, wearing a dunce cap, hits his feet against the stool. On the chalkboard, “I will not fidget” has been written several times. He sees Deniece Williams and puts his hands on his cap. She takes off his dunce cap and hands him a top hat. He puts her hand to her face and catches the cane she throws to him. He performs a dance routine. She sits by a desk and he joins her, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

A young man wearing glasses practices on the piano. She walks into the room, shaking her head. He squints as she removes his glasses. She shows him a record and puts it in the player. He starts to dance on the bench and then kicks some photos off the piano. She tears up his music sheets and snaps her fingers.

On the football field, a young man in his uniform hunches over, waiting for the play to begin. She taps him on the back. He gets knocked over by the other player and gives her a thumbs up. However, she still worries. The young man begins to dance and she joins in, clapping her hands. He offers her his arm and spins her around.

The lights go on over the field and dozens of young men dance with her. The little boy break dances. A young man lifts weights. She dances with several men. Another man does flips on the empty field.

Rating: 3/5

Men wanting to enter the creative fields face the same pressure as women: lack of support, pressure to look a certain way and fighting against stereotypes. Deniece Williams wants to help, offering her guidance and experience to them. A little boy gets punished for constantly moving in class. Dismissed as a troublemaker, the teacher has given up on him. She thinks the dunce cap is an overreaction. He has lots of energy and it needs to be put to use. She hands him a top hat. He dances around the classroom, grateful for Williams taking the time to understand him.

Another young man has been taught that music is a hobby and to concentrate on classical music. It’s a genre better suited for his quiet personality. He idolizes Elvis Presley and dreams of being on stage. However She teaches him to let loose, turning him into a rock star.

A football player believes he has to be involved in sports in order to be a real man, hiding his desire to dance. His coach set up a private practice for him, hoping it will improve his skill. However, he nearly gets a concussion trying to avoid physical contact during a scrimmage. He fears injuring his feet, ending his dancing career before it can begin.

In each young man, she sees potential beyond a stereotype. At home, the little boy has soldiers given to him even though he requests dance lessons from his parents. A shy, young man is dissuaded from a career in music due to his looks and quiet personality. Williams discovers his songwriting skills and allows him to express himself. She sees the football player struggling, trying to be the person he’s expected to be. The football players meets her and immediately finds solace in her support.

Williams wants the young men to be able to view themselves as artists without slurs. The arts world is a community and she feels it’s her responsibility, given her success, to be welcoming. As a mentor, she can introduce the young men to programs they may not know about and help choose careers that will allow them to utilize their creativity.

Director: N/A Year: 1984

 

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