Success and Human Flourishing – The Impact of Vision, Drive, Ego-Strength and Biological and Sociological Forces On Our Lives – A Movie Review for Smart People of “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” by Gary S. Smolker
Posted by Gary S. Smolker
“Six Dances in Six Weeks” is a movie about human resiliency, creativity, openness to new interactions, openness to new experiences in new environments, openness to new ideas, growing old, vision, drive, ego-strength, coping, human flourishing and success.
“Six Dances in Six Weeks” is a great movie for women who like to look at and/or watch “Hungarian men” (they are supposed to be great lovers) in action and is also a great movie for men and women who think about getting old and/or think about women who get old.
“Six Dances in Six Weeks” dramatizes (a) why you should think for yourself, (b) constantly re-examine your preconceptions, (c) have your own thoughts, (d) make up your own mind and (e) realize you only live once and that you and the people you care about will grow old and will eventually pass away.
The three main characters in this movie are people who adapt themselves to the demands of the day in ways that advance the things they care about.
The challenge presented to you in this movie review post is to answer the following questions.
- How can the future get better if no one plans for it?
- Why should (or, would) you expect yourself to succeed in life and/or in your own business and/or in your career or in your job without a plan to make it happen?
- Do you need new ways of seeing and making sense of the other individuals with whom you interact i.e. your family, friends, teachers, mentors, work colleagues and competitors?
- Are you a passive pawn manipulated entirely by forces beyond your control?
- Are you constantly actively testing, confirming, and revising hypotheses about people, objects and events in your life?
- Are you a high self-monitor or a low self-monitor? [High self-monitors are concerned about how others see them, and they behave so as to reflect the norms and expectations of the situations they enter. Low self-monitors are less concerned with how others view them and are guided in their behavior by their own traits and values rather than situational expectations.]
- To what extent is your life actively shaped by your goals, aspirations, and/or self-defining ventures and personal projects that provide meaning in your life?
- Does how you construe others tell you as much about you as it does about them?
- Are you more interested in the pursuit of happiness or the happiness of pursuit?
- Who do you think you are?
- What is the purpose of your life?
- How will growing older effect you?
- What is your concrete vision of your future life?
- Are you focused relentlessly on what is most important to you?
Biological and Sociological Motivated Behavior
“Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” takes place in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
This movie is principally about the life and experiences of a widow (Lily Harrison) in her 70s who is trying to fill up time remaining before she dies/passes.
Lily decides to take private dance lessons.
This movie is secondarily about the life of another widow (Irene Mossbecker) who is a woman in her late 50s or 60s or 70s, who has decided (now that her husband has passed away) to create a new and rewarding social life.
Irene makes it clear that she had no sex while she was caring for her ill and dying husband and now “desperately” wants to have an active “sex life”, to get laid now that her husband is dead.
Irene has decided to launch her new social life by taking private dance lessons.
Lily and Irene take private dance lessons from the same dance instructor (Michael Minetti).
The movie revolves around their interactions with Michael.
Michael is a very complex man.
Michael is sensitive, conscientious, highly organized, loyal, empathetic, compassionate, kind, warm, sweet, highly creative, talented, intelligent, sophisticated, a gentleman, a great dancer, a great dance instructor and very charming.
Michael left a successful career as a performer/professional dancer on Broadway to come to Florida to care for his dying mother.
His mother had Alzheimer’s disease, but recognized Michael each time he was near.
Michael is now broke.
Michael needs a job in order to be able to pay his bills.
The only job he could get was the job of being a dance instructor.
Lily and Irene are each a product of their “social” “cultural” and “sociological” past.
Throughout their married lives they lived/behaved the way they had been taught to act and were expected to act.
Their mind-set is a big part of who they are now and how they think of themselves.
“Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” begins with Michael driving his car to Lily’s condo in St. Petersburg to give Lily her/his first private dance lesson.
Michael has just started his dance instructor job, as a private dance instructor. He needs to keep this job in order to be able to pay his bills.
The three principal characters in this movie are (i) Lily Harrison, who is a retired school teacher who doesn’t know what to do with her life (Lily is played with conviction and verve by Gena Rowland); (ii) Michael Minetti, who is a dance instructor who needs the money he hopes he will earn by giving private dance lessons (Michael is played with great skill charm and creativity by Cheyenne Jackson) and (iii) Irene Mossbecker, who is a 60 plus year old “sex pot” (Irene is convincingly played by Jackie Weaver).
Each one of these three characters (Lily, Irene and Michael) is a “true to life” person.
Keeping A Job
During “Six Dances in Six Weeks” Michael demonstrates an amazing ability to persist in projects and tasks related to keeping his job with Lily.
As a result of Lily’s jauntiness and Michael’s inexperience in private dance instruction Michael is repeatedly fired by Lily and has to constantly actively pursue Lily’s good will in order to keep his job.
Throughout the movie Lily repeatedly fires Michael and constantly tells Michael to go away.
Michael depends on his gut instinct and creativity and through his creative efforts and keen appreciation of who he is dealing with is able to keep his job.
In his own charming and creative way, Michael is able to keep his job in spite of the fact that at one time Michael tells Lily she is an uptight tight assed old bitty (or words to that effect).
Several times Michael tells Lily he has had enough of her. She is intolerable.
But after several dance lessons, Michael becomes a comfort and good friend to Lily.
Micheal is a highly intelligent, resourceful, and realistic person, able to tolerate confrontation.
Throughout this movie the audience becomes more and more fully engaged in watching Michael dealing with confrontations.
Michael is not inhibited when it comes to expressing his feelings, including negative feelings.
Fending Off Sexual Advances
Irene’s plans to get laid by Michael fail for many reasons.
At the beginning of the movie, Irene and the rest of us don’t realize that Michael is “gay.”
That comes out later.
Who Are These Three Characters? What Makes Them Tick?
Throughout the movie we learn piece by piece who each of these three characters really are, as they tell one another the “story of their life.”
Each of their lives have been shaped by social convention.
Lily was married to a Southern Baptist preacher.
Their daughter became pregnant, while out-of-wedlock.
Lily’s husband forbade Lily from talking to their daughter, from seeing their daughter.
Their daughter died while having an illegal abortion.
Irene’s husband was ill for many years.
Irene took care of her husband during his illness, and although she is a highly sexual person remained true to her husband, didn’t cheat on her husband, didn’t have sex with another man.
We learn how living within the norms of social conventions was painful to each of them.
- Lily never forgave herself for turning her back on her daughter in her daughter’s time of need.
- Irene was driven crazy by practicing sexual abstinence during the later years of her marriage.
Social conventions, conforming to cultural scripts, prevented Lily and Irene from doing what they really wanted to do while they were married.
During marriage, Lily and Irene had to suppress their biological, emotional and ideological desires in one tension filled emotional personal situation after another as a result of conforming to what was expected of them as a married woman in the culture of their society.
Michael was “unfairly” penalized and unjustly treated by heterosexual people in heterosexual society as a result of Michael’s sexual orientation.
- Michael was named as an heir to inherit the house he was living in with his boyfriend (in his boyfriend’s/partner’s/lover’s will), but lost his inheritance in a will contest after his boy-friend died.
- There are/were a limited number of jobs open to Michael due to prejudice in society against homosexuals.
- People assume/worry that Michael has AIDS because Michael is a homosexual. Michael doesn’t have AIDS.
Each one of these three characters (Lily, Irene, Michael) is an authentic person, a person who is both believable and adorable.
Each one of these three characters is a very strong stable person.
They don’t dwell or ruminate on bad things that happened to them in the past.
Throughout this movie, each one of these characters is actively going forward with their life. They are not depressed, or anxious. They are looking forward to life and to living.
They are robust individuals who believe they shape their own lives and act accordingly.
This movie is about the impact on their well-being of these three character’s belief about their personal control of their lives.
This movie is about the successes they achieve as they actively adapt themselves to the demands of the day in ways that advance the things they care about.
In this movie, these three characters (Irene, Michael and Lily) approach life with the firm conviction they are the controlling agents, with luck or chance playing a minor role.
Are You A Lottery Ticket?
Irene, Michael and Lily see their lives as being under their control.
Unlike Irene, Michael and Lily, other people believe, with equal conviction, that forces external to them determine what happens in their lives, for good or evil.
By the way, one of the most contentious issues in business and in life is whether success comes from luck or skill.
I, for one, believe that success is never accidental.
I believe that life is not a lottery ticket.
Ralph Waldo Emerson captured my ethos when he wrote: “Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances…. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
This movie is not a pity party.
Throughout this movie, the three principal characters in this movie – Irene, Michael and Lily – are seen making their own luck by working hard.
They have concrete visions of their future lives.
They are focused relentlessly on what is most important to them and to making the future they want for themselves.
In “Six Dances in Six Weeks” we are shown how people they loved “dying” changed the lives of the three principal characters in this movie.
In “Six Dances in Six Weeks”, among other things, we learn what it is like to grow “old” as an unmarried widow – how society treats you after your husband has died.
According to Lily: you become invisible to other people when you are an old woman without a man on your arm; people look right through you without seeing you when you are in their line of sight.
Lily is carrying out concrete plans to change that: That is why Lily is taking private dance lessons with Michael.
Lily is taking private dance lessons with Michael to shape her future.
She has determined the one best thing for her to do (is to learn to dance) and she is doing that.
Lily is challenging a personal problem (ageism) she has experienced growing old by taking private dance lessons.
Lily is coping well with the passing of her husband and growing old.
Lily is not drowning in self-pity.
Being A Gay Man
According to Michael, homosexuals are hated by perfect strangers who have been “taught” that there is something unclean about gay men.
But, Michael is not a pessimist.
Michael believes the future will be better than the present if he plans and works to make it better.
Michael does not underestimate the power of planning or overrate the power of chance.
Michael believes in progress.
Michael is a definite optimist.
Irene is an extremely extraverted woman. She can’t stop talking.
She is assertive.
Irene needs to be in highly stimulating settings.
Taking a private dance lesson is a “perfect ploy”/strategy on her part, a “perfect idea.”
Irene is “assertive conduct” incarnate.
She can’t stop being “physical” – touching Michael and having Michael touch her. Having Michael as her dance instructor allows that (touching Michael) to happen naturally.
Irene is a horny sex starved widow with a huge sex drive.
Figuratively speaking, Irene is a born again virgin.
Irene explains to Michael that she was a loyal and dutiful wife who took care of an ill husband – during the last years of his life.
Now that her husband is dead, Irene wants to have fun.
Various scenes in the movie make it clear that Irene’s idea of “having fun” is to have sex with Michael.
Irene makes a play for Michael.
Michael avoids Irene’s advances.
There is nothing antisocial about Michael.
Michael is the most conscientious, robust, positive, charming, creative, witty, sensitive, cooperative, loyal, pleasant, friendly, protective, supportive, effective and stable person you can imagine.
Throughout this movie, Michael is constantly called upon to improvise.
Keeping his job as Lily’s private dance instructor requires the greatest amount of innovation, creativity and charm you can imagine.
Michael always has his wits about him.
Michael is called upon to use the greatest amount of tact gut instinct and creativity in his dealing with Irene, to keep his private dance instructor job with intense huggy-touchy sex-starved sex-pot extravert Irene.
Michael doesn’t let the vicissitudes of every day life get him down.
Michael flourishes in fast-intense-noisy-situations that place a premium on social engagement.
Michael never loses his cool.
Michael’s proudest achievement is that his mother always recognized him when he visited her while she was dying of Alzheimer’s disease although she was at all times unaware of her surroundings and unaware of who all the people around her (except Michael) were.
When Michael learns (late in the movie) that Lily has cancer and has been taking radiation treatments behind his back, Michael steps up to the plate and becomes Lily’s best friend.
Michael has an immense amount of intellectual resources which he uses while he is coping with the confrontations he is constantly being subjected to throughout this movie in interactions and his dealings with Lily and Irene. It is a joy to watch him in action.
Through her animated exchanges and other interactions with Michael, Lily becomes a new person. Lily becomes:
- An open-minded person
- A person open to new ideas
- A person receptive to new ideas
- A person open to new experiences in new environments
- Lily becomes an independent thinker.
As a result of interactions with Michael, Lily re-examines her stereotypical preconceptions and the social norms she was brought up with.
Lily learns to live with her past.
Lily learns to accept herself as she now is.
Michael teaches Lily how to have joy in life by meeting new people.
Michael teaches Lily why she should open mindedly engage in social interactions.
Lily learns she can move forward with her life; her life is not ending, it is just beginning.
Michael enables Lily to take control of her life.
Since the opening of the stage version of “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” in Los Angeles and Broadway, the stage version of “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” has been translated into 14 languages and performed/produced in 24 countries. It is one of the most performed plays in the world.
The film version of “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” (a film adaptation of the play) was released in mid-December, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 by Gary S. Smolker
About Gary S. SmolkerPERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.
Posted on December 23, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged a definite optimist, adapting to demands of the day in ways that advance the things you care about, age, ageism, aging, agreeableness, Alzheimer's Disease, animated, antisocial, arousing settings, assertive, assertive behavior, biological forces, born again virgin, committed pursuit, concientitiousness, concrete plans, concrete plans for the future, conscientious, conscientious people, coping, creativity, death, demands of the day, drive, dying, effective performance, ego-strength, empathic, friendly, future, gay, goal achievement, growing older, hard work, haunty, hauntyness, homophobia, homosexual, horny widow, human flourishing, Hungarian, innovative, innovative accomplishment, intellectual resources, loyal and dutiful wife, making your own luck by working hard, new interactions, norms and expectations, openness, openness extraversion, openness to experience, openness to new environments, openness to new ideas, openness to new interactions, orderly, persevering, personality, pessimism, pessimists, preconceptions, protective, purpose, purpose of life, Ralph Waldo Emerson, receptive to new ideas, resiliency, robust, self-monitoring, sensitivity, sensitivity to social clues, sex, sex starved widow, shallow men, situational expectations, smart people, social, social contexts of our lives, social ecology, social engagement, sociological forces, stable, stable individuals, stable people, success, supportive, the happiness of pursuit, the pursuit of happiness, timely completion, vision, vulnerable, vulnerable to the vicissitudes of everyday lives, well organized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.