Dada's Dance

Director: Zhang Yuan
Screenwriters: Li Xiaofeng

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


Dada is the neighborhood coquette. She lives with her divorced mother, works at a pool hall, and is a tease to the local men, including the boy next door, Zhoa, who has a crush on her. One morning she catches him spying on her as she dances, but she continues to flirt with him. Her mother’s lecherous new boyfriend also has eyes for her. But when she spurns his advances, he reveals that she’s adopted. Hastily packing her bag, Dada heads out of town with Zhoa in search of her birth mother.

Picking up on many of the themes that have fascinated him over the course of his career, Zhang Yuan (Little Red Flowers screened at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival) returns with a stylized rite-of-passage story that reflects broadly on contemporary love, disaffected youth, and existential malaise. As always, Zhang’s stylization is distinctive—here most notably in the sensual imagery, eclectic music, and nocturnal motif that seems to swallow his characters even in the daytime. Dada inhabits a world of obscurity and ambivalence, where life has no gravity. Though Zhoa takes her to the adoption center, she laughs and runs off. She’s unable to take anything seriously, even Zhoa who truly loves her. Although she shows outward signs of maturity, we’re left to wonder whether the dance has really changed.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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