Keith Adams Jr.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Quickie Review (A Very Merry Cinematic Christmas 2020)
Just like there was documentaries in last year’s edition of A Very Merry Cinematic Christmas, there’s one in the lineup for this year as well and this is where we pay...in sweat. In case you’re not getting the reference, we’re paying a visit to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (or D.A.D.A.) where the renowned and revered legend of dance, acting, directing and producing is shaping up her pupils for her annual “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker”, which is a more diverse and contemporary interpretation of the Tchaikovsky ballet and through passion, toughness and a lot of love, she’ll give them the drive to succeed in not just the art of dance but in life as well. Before any of you ask, this Netflix documentary from executive producer Shonda Rhimes (who has collaborated with Allen numerous times, having directed episodes of several Shondaland shows and appears in a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy”) counts as a Christmas title, takes a look at the making of a Christmas ballet, ergo it qualifies for this year’s AVMCC so no need to question it. It counts. Anyway, this is such an entertaining and heartfelt documentary that showcases the hard work of dancers who want to not only display their talents but also want to shatter the traditional expectations of what a ballet dancer is supposed to look like and it’s also an inspirational portrait of the woman herself who’s molding these dancers and showcases her own signature brand of motivational tough love with both being shown in equal measure. Watching these dancers perform and train gained my absolute respect but I don’t think I can handle it myself, especially with Allen’s way of teaching and the fact that I bumble most of the time when I dance. Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker is a delightful and aspiring look at the art of dance and the woman who shaped the dancers and prepared them for life. Definitely give this one a watch this season!
Next up: Alien X-Mas (it’s an out-of-the-world Christmas story from the siblings who brought y’all the Killer Klowns, The Chiodo Bros!)