Shall we dansu

  • Directors: Masayuki Suo
  • Producers: Yasuyoshi Tokuma
  • Writers: Masayuki Suo
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance
  • Actors: Tamiyo Kusakari

The film begins with a close-up of the inscription above the stage in the ballroom of the Blackpool Tower: “Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear”, from the poem Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare. As the camera pans around the ballroom giving a view of the dancers, a voice-over explains that in Japan, ballroom dancing is treated with suspicion.

Shohei Sugiyama (Koji Yakusho) is a successful salaryman, with a house in the suburbs, a devoted wife, Masako, (Hideko Hara) and a teenage daughter, Chikage (Ayano Nakamura). He works as an accountant for a firm in Tokyo. Despite these external signs of success, however, Sugiyama begins to feel as if his life has lost direction and meaning and falls into depression.

One night, while coming home on the Tokyo Subway, he spots a beautiful woman dancing in a dance studio. This is Mai Kishikawa, (Tamiyo Kusakari), a well known figure on the Western ballroom dance circuit. Sugiyama becomes infatuated with her and decides to take lessons in order to get to know her better.

Sugiyama’s life changes once his classes begin. Rather than Mai, his teacher is Tamako Tamura (Reiko Kusamura), who becomes an important mentor to him. He meets his classmates, Tokoichi Hattori (Yu Tokui) who joined to impress his wife, and Masahiro Tanaka (Hiromasa Taguchi) who joined to lose weight. He also meets Toyoko Takahashi (Eriko Watanabe), another instructor. He further discovers that one of his colleagues from work Tomio Aoki (Naoto Takenaka) is a regular at the dance studio. Aoki, who is bald and picked on at work for his rigid ways, is revealed to be leading a secret life as a long-haired (via a wig) star ballroom dancer. Though distant from her, the classes increase his infatuation for Mai. His secret thus becomes twofold: not only must he hide the lessons from his wife, he must also hide them from his friends and colleagues as it is considered embarrassing according to traditional Japanese customs to participate in Western ballroom dance.

At home, Sugiyama’s wife tries to understand her husband’s new passion by asking him to teach her to dance as well. He is invited to a good-bye party for Mai, who is leaving for Blackpool. At the party, Mai joins him to dance, asking him “Shall we dance?”

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