This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Hot to Trot

Ernesto Palma and Nikolai Shpakov prepare for same-sex dance competition in Hot to Trot (photo by Curt Worden)

HOT TO TROT (Gail Freedman, 2017)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, August 24

“It’s Fred and Fred and Ginger and Ginger,” dance judge Benjamin Soencksen says, laughing, near the beginning of Hot to Trot, Gail Freedman’s intimate portrait of same-sex competitive ballroom dancing. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2017 NewFest LGBT Film Festival, the documentary follows several partners, some of whom are couples in life as well as on the dance floor, as they prepare and compete in the 2012 April Follies in Oakland and the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland. As they rehearse their routines and select their costumes, they celebrate the freedom the competitions give them. “There is something about this community, and I know it’s related to the fact that we’re a target group and that community is so much more important because of that,” same-sex dance organizer Barbara Zoloth explains. Among the featured pairs are Emily Coles and Kieren Jameson, Ernesto Palma and Robbie Tristan, Palma and Nikolai Shpakov, and Coles and Katerina Blinova, along with Kalin Mitov, Jose Comoda, Zoe Balfour, Citabria Phillips, and Chris Phan. They discuss serious health issues, drug addiction, coming-out stories, relationship with parents, and more, sharing how broken they’ve been and how same-sex dancing has restored their self-esteem and put them on a positive track, especially since, as one team says, “There is no guy’s part, and there’s no girl’s part,” no leaders or followers; everyone is equal. They also have lots of fun. “Are we two divas? Yes!” Tristan declares. Hot to Trot opens August 24 at the Quad, with Freedman participating in Q&As with editor Dina Potocki, Shpakov, and Palma at the 7:05 screenings on Friday and Saturday night.

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