Violette (Balancing Dreams)

Institute History

  • 1984 Directors Lab


Balancing Dreams is a touching and humorous portrait of a young girl’s struggle to grow out of an environment in which her own sense of freedom is overwhelmed by her mother’s needs and expectations.

Violette Peterson is a fourteen year old tomboy and the only child of thirty-nine year old Mavis Peterson, the owner of the popular Blue Nile Beauty Parlour. Violette is not interested in ‘becoming the young woman’ that her mother wants her to be and resents Mavis’ advice to “keep your drawers up and your dress down.” Violette reacts by constantly mimicking her mother, an expression through which she discovers her natural inclination for mime.

As the only female member of Steel Blades, a group of handball players, Violette is well-respected for her playing skills. But Violetter’s changing physical self inevitably brings her into conflict with Steel Blades who are her only friends. When friction, competition and sexual confrontation rise among the boys, Violette decides she can no longer be a part of the group. When Mavis becomes aware of Violette’s change, she responds by putting Violette to work in the beauty parlour to keep an eye on her.

Violette is further alienated from her mother with the arrival of Suchess, Mavis’ thirty-six year old, free spirited sister. Following a six year stay in Europe where she toured with her one woman show, Duchess has returned to New York to secure a role in a Broadway show. Violette is immediately attracted to her aunt’s beauty and style and Duchess becomes her adult symbol of yearning. However, Mavis feels threatened by Duchess’ presence and renewed tensions between the two sisters explodes and a confused Violette leaves home.

Mavis and Duchess soon realize that they are lending to Violette’s confusion and, in a resolve, straighten out their relationship. Violette returns to an environment where she can assert her growing independence.


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