Emmy Award winner Kimberly McCullough (Robin Scorpio in "General Hospital") stars as a young aspiring dancer whose life is threatened by anorexia in "Dying to Dance," an NBC world premiere movie. Also starring are Mary-Margaret Humes (Gail Leery in "Dawson's Creek") and recording star Rick Springfield (the NBC show "Suddenly Susan").
Elisa Lennox, age 18 (McCullough) is one of the 5 to 10 million American females who suffer from anorexia nervosa. Fresh out of high school, Elisa joins a major ballet company and quickly begins to believe that ballerinas must be pencil-thin. As her obsession accelerates, she lives on a near-starvation diet while punishing herself with excessive exercise. As anorexia plays greater havoc in her life, Elise's relationships suffer, her health deteriorates and her dance performance level plummets. When her loss of strength results in a dangerous accident and subsequent hospitalization, she ignores the clear warning
According to US
Dying To Dance reminds me of an
ABC after-school special. Teenage girl has a great life, gets into
trouble, parents help her out, they all live happily ever after. Don't
get me wrong, I liked it, just wished Rick would have had more scenes in
this one. He plays David Lennox, a lawyer with a wife and daughter, who
is an aspiring ballerina. The storyline focuses on Alyssa, who is a
college student entering a very prestigious dance academy, who must work
herself literally to death to be able to make it big. When Alyssa starts
to show signs of an eating disorder and exhaustion, the mother shows
much concern, but her father seems to want to take up for her. Dave
Lennox is on his daughters side and tends to be in "denial"
when it comes to admitting anything could be wrong with her. The typical
"daddy's little girl" scenario. Very interesting to see Rick
in this sort of role, playing the father figure.
|I was flipping channels last night, trying to entertain my daughter and her friend who was spending the night. I was so excited to see Dying to Dance was airing on LMN, and managed to talk them into watching it with me. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, see. I hadn't reviewed this yet, they hadn't seen it and we could all watch it together. After about 1/2 hour, I remembered why I hadn't reviewed this one yet. Rick's not in it much! LOL So here's my review, with some comments from "the peanut gallery" thrown in to spice it up a bit.
30 seconds into this movie, and I'm cracking up already. We've only seen the credits and yet seeing the words "Rick Springfield as Dave Lennox" give me the giggles. Rick looks nothing like a "Dave" and that also happens to be my husband's first name. This strikes me as funny. Could be the lack of sleep lately though.
The movie opens at a school dance, the lead character Alyssa Lennox (played by Kimberly McCullough --Robin Scorpio on General Hospital) is dancing with her date and they're about to announce the prom queen. Alyssa doubts she is the winner. Her name is naturally called, as well as her dates' - Scott Peterson! (another ROTFL moment - I love picking out things that seem so glaring obvious years later). Obviously this was before Scott met Laci. Just kidding. (see, the flick is already so boring I've got to add my own humor) Robin....sorry Alyssa's haircut is so boy-ish I can't see how she won the crown, but I guess it was a personality vote. She then comes home and her mother is looking at her own Prom photos on the couch. She shows her mom the crown and mentions she is home early to get a good night's sleep for her audition tomorrow. The girls in the room ooh and ahh over how pretty of a crown it was.
Alyssa is trying out for the prestigious Metropolitan Ballet Company, and scored the position of apprentice ballerina. She returns home and tells her mother she has wonderful news. Her father (1st Rick sighting!) hurriedly rushes in, apologizing for being late for dinner. He's wearing a suit & tie, sporting the short Karma album haircut, and a sigh escapes me. (daughter's friend goes, "Ah, that must be Rick.") Alyssa proudly announces to her parents the news. Dave looks concerned (good job Rick, he does concerned very well) and asks her about college. Mom overrules Dad explaining that their daughter has always wanted to be a ballerina. Oh yeah, that's a good excuse Mom. I tell my daughter over on the couch that that one will not work with me.
Alyssa is shown with the star ballerina of the show, Jillian. They are discussing all the "work" involved being a part of the dance troupe. They are out at a restaurant and Alyssa asks if Jillian is eating. Jillian warns her about her food intake, and skips lunch herself. Alyssa wolfs down her salad. Upon returning to practice, there is a weigh-in. Since Alyssa is at near the end of the line, she can hear what the other girl's weights are. They are coming in at either 98 or 95 lbs. Alyssa steps on the scale and is 104 lbs. The Madame gives her a little "harrumph" as she steps off.
After her first week in the troupe, she is given her review. She is criticized on several of her moves and is instructed to lose at least 5 lbs to improve her body line. This comes after she exclaims that she has already lost 5. Jillian sees her coming out of her review and tries to give her a pep talk about using the harsh words to make herself a stronger dancer.
At this point I realize that Alyssa has been "practicing" non stop. What happened to school?
|The next day, Jillian collapses at practice. Alyssa is extremely concerned, but is told that they must continue on practicing. The dancers are later informed that Jillian has passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition. The next scene shows the Lennox family at Jillian's funeral. (Rick dressed in a dark suit, still looking somber) and Alyssa tells Jillian's mother that she won't let Jillian down. Back at practice, the other dancers are sharing weight loss tips with Alyssa. Smoking, herbal supplements and having a rib removed are mentioned. (Girls in the room go
"ewww" and I send up a silent thank-you prayer).
Alyssa is now home having dinner with her parents. She manages to cut her food into lots of tiny little pieces and then push it around her plate, never taking a bite. Her parents fail to notice. They are harping on her though that she is working too hard. Dave points out to his wife that "if she's going to commit, she should commit 100% to dancing". Alyssa tells them she has more practicing to do.
The next day at practice, Alyssa complains of a pain in her leg. She says that she has never felt this kind of pain before, since she's experienced muscle cramps before. The other dancers think it might be a stress fracture. She refuses to go see the trainer as she is afraid they are right and she will not be able to attend the next audition. (this is another thing that confuses me, the dancers are constantly practicing and then auditioning for roles)
Back at home, her mother tries to get her to eat. She explains that she ate before she came home. Her mother then asks her why she looks so tired and tells her she must be working too hard. Alyssa asks her father what he thinks. He then asks her if she thinks she is working too hard. (what?) Of course, she says no. She then asks to move out and move in with the other dancers. All the driving back and forth is adding more stress onto her. Her parents first refuse, then agree to think about it.
|Her parents rush into the ER and demand to see her. When the doctor tells him they must talk first, they think the worst. He explains that she was not injured in the accident, but that she has anorexia nervosa. She passed out driving due to low blood pressure from not eating. Dave says to the doctor, "She's a dancer, they all look like that." Mom and Dad wonder aloud why the ballet didn't tell them anything was wrong.
They talk with Alyssa who tells them that she just didn't eat yesterday, she was too busy practicing and forgot. She is adamant that the doctor is wrong about her, but agrees to be hospitalized for two weeks to get her weight back up. After the two weeks, she is ready to be discharged. The doctors are afraid that she followed the rules just to get out of the hospital but that she is not cured. She now weighs 91 lbs, and her parents discharge her on the agreement that she will continue outpatient treatment.
Alyssa goes back to the troupe just in time to audition for the lead role opened up by Jillian's death. She loses the lead to her friend Tori. She spirals back into her old habits. She lies to her mother on the phone that she has called the doctor and has made an appointment and is eating. Her mother hangs up the phone and indicates that she thought Alyssa was lying. She proceeds to go up to her bedroom and snoop around. Her mother finds her stash of diet supplements, and all of her indications on her closet mirror that she is a pig. She calls to her husband, who comes in the room and looks around in amazement. (what, they've never checked out her room before now?) He finds the review letter from the Madame that states Alyssa should lose 5 lbs. Her parents are furious.
The next day her mother goes to talk to the head of the dance troupe. She indicates that her husband is a lawyer, and they don't want to have to blame the ballet for encouraging Alyssa to be moody & emaciated. The Madame agrees to keep a closer eye on Alyssa. Alyssa overhears her mother speaking with the Madame and is upset. As they are arguing, she collapses. She wakes up in the hospital and is told she has cardiac arrhythmia. Her parents admit her once again after realizing she wasn't cured.
The parents attend counseling with Alyssa. Dave blames everything on his wife. Alyssa begs them to stop arguing, and insists everything is her fault.
After the break, we see Alyssa and her parents sitting in the audience at the premiere of the ballet. They watch the performance, and at the end Jillian's mother is presented with $100,000 raised in Jillian's name that night. She calls Alyssa to the stage, and explains that a Center for Eating Disorders will be established in Jillian's name. Alyssa talks about her battle with anorexia, and that the center will offer free help for any dancers. She hopes to be well enough someday to rejoin the company.
The credits roll, and the girls have fallen asleep. :-) - Michelle P.