“Deep In Vogue”: This Is Full British Ballroom Immersion

Two decades after Madonna’s “Vogue” blew the doors off ballroom, the scene is hotter than ever. Now a pair of British filmmakers are touring art houses and festivals with Deep in Vogue, a documentary that shows just how deeply entrenched ballroom has become across The Pond.

Just as Paris is Burning and Pose offer up their own viewpoints on what ballroom is and should mean to those inside and outside their world, Deep In Vogue provides another turn of the kaleidoscope.

Collaborators Dennis Keighron-Foster and Amy Watson use their access to Manchester’s catwalks, rehearsal rooms and inter-house competitions to maximum visual effect. The film is gorgeous to watch, fills you with an urge to clap, dance and cheer and makes you wonder what they left on the cutting room floor.

What Are You Lookin’ At?

While you will hear harrowing stories of disowned and bullied house mothers and their spiritual children, the stories are not as filled with grief, drugs and disease as either of their better-known forbearers. Is the UK scene more health-conscious? Are there fewer house members living below the poverty line? Those answers aren’t so clear. But what is clear is that Keighron-Foster and Watson are huge fans of ballroom culture, and they want to make sure you leave sharing their adulation.

What you will see is state-of-the-art ballroom splendor — as done by the Brits — shot by people who savor each eye-popping image they captured. Every few minutes a new parade of moves and makeup and costumes and choreography splash across the screen.

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One sure bonus is the tutorial provided by House of Ghetto patriarch Darren Pritchard. In less than a minute of screen time, he goes through the entire history of vogue moves, telling the story of each with the flailing arms and angular hand moves that began with LA waackers back in the 1970s.

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Fleeting moments of darkness leaven the celebratory tone of Deep In Vogue. But make no mistake: these filmmakers have come to praise ballroom, and they give it everything they’ve got and all it deserves.

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Kevin Phinney

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