Director: Maria Novaro
Screenwriters: Maria Novaro, Beatriz Novaro

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


In Danzón María Rojo, one of Mexico’s most accomplished actresses, portrays a middle-aged single mother in Mexico City in pursuit of her pleasure in the faded Colonia Dance Hall. Twice a week for ten years she has met her elegant and mysterious dance partner, Carmelo, to dance the the legendary danzón, the restrained dance of seduction that stirs every Mexican heart. A nineteenth-century import from Cuba and Haiti, danzón ignited the Mexican dance halls with its combination of precisely synchronized steps and subtle, guarded lasciviousness set to a bolero rhythm. Julia’s years of dancing with Carmelo have won them recognition as the premiere dancers of danzón and provided relief from her tedious days as a telephone operator and mother. So when Carmelo mysteriously disappears, Julia sets out on an odyssey to find this man with whom she, in the classic tradition of danzóneros, has never shared any more physical intimacy than can occur on a dance floor. Hearing that Carmelo is a cook on an ocean freighter, Julia journeys to Veracruz, where she meets a host of colorful characters, including a sternly sympathetic hotel keeper, empathetic prostitutes, a gregarious transvestite, Russian sailors, and especially a young tugboat sailor (his tugboat says “You see me and suffer”), who claims he wants to learn danzón. Her trip brings Julia in contact with many other women like herself, and when she finally returns to Mexico City and the Colonia, she is in full command of her danzón.

Danzón, María Novaro’s second feature, is as suggestive and seductive as the music which permeates it, whose joyous and spicy rhythms Novaro uses to compliment Julia’s emotional journey. Novaro remains a filmmaker committed to exploring the feminine soul and the sensualities of the heart in stories about women playing with destiny, and Danzón is a thoroughly entertaining film.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

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