Calendar Girls is a documentary that looks at a unique dance troupe from southwest Florida. The titular group is composed of women over the age of sixty. The film is a look at these women finding meaning in their lives as they get older and doing it under their own terms. The opening moments introduce a fun atmosphere that promises a lighthearted affair. Listening to the women describe their time in Calendar Girls, it is clear they love it. This idea is revisited many times, most noticeably in dance segments done for the film.
It is not all fun and games, however. Early on, Katherine, the leader of the group, mentions how at least 200 days a year are spent rehearsing and performing. Later on, she explains her vetting process to potential dancers. The most important part is conveying the commitment that is needed as part of the team. One of the members says being in the group is not just something you do; it is a “lifestyle”.
Calendar Girls goes beyond the performances, however. Filmmakers Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen obviously earned the women’s trust as there are some frank conversations. Topics range from health, to family, to sacrifice. Everyone interviewed is open, bringing an air of importance to their time in the dance group. Things get surprisingly dark.
The beginning foreshadows a recurring theme of Calendar Girls. Katherine implies how her husband can be dismissive of her work with the others. As it turns out, others have similar issues. These are some of the most heartbreaking moments of the documentary. Still, it is an overall uplifting watch. Dancing not only gives joy to the Calendar Girls – they bring happiness to others. It is also a story of doing what makes you happy and not what others expect of you.
Calendar Girls opens in New York and Florida November 4 and in Los Angeles November 18
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