Take the Lead

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For the song, see Take the Lead (Wanna Ride).
Take the Lead
Promotional poster for Take the Lead
Directed by Liz Friedlander
Produced by Christopher Godsick
Michelle Grace
Diane Nabatoff
Written by Dianne Houston
Starring Antonio Banderas
Rob Brown
Yaya DaCosta
Alfre Woodard
Dante Basco
Elijah Kelley
Jenna Dewan
Marcus T. Paulk
Lauren Collins
Katya Virshilas
Music by Bonnie Greenberg
Swizz Beatz
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
April 7, 2006
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $65,742,529

Take the Lead is a 2006 musical drama film starring Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, Alfre Woodard, Dante Basco, Elijah Kelley, Marcus T. Paulk, Jenna Dewan, Lauren Collins and also features former America's Next Top Model contestant, Yaya DaCosta. The film was released in mainstream cinema on April 7, 2006. Although based in New York City, the film was filmed in Toronto, and used stock footage of various New York City locations. The movie is based on the life of Pierre Dulaine, a well-known ballroom dancer and a dance instructor, known for 'Dancing Classrooms'.


The opening credits run over students preparing for a school dance. Rock arrives with a water-damaged ticket and is denied entrance by the aggressive Mr. Temple and Principal James. Rock leaves and encounters some thugs, who lead on him to vandalize the Principal’s car. Pierre Dulaine catches Rock in the act, but Rock runs away before Pierre can question him further.

The next morning, Pierre turns up to see the Principal. Having explained that he was a witness to the vandalism on her car, he eventually offers to take over the detention shift and teach them ballroom dancing, to which she agrees, although she is sure that he will not last more than a day. Pierre is led to the basement to meet the students, among whom is Rock. His first class is disastrous due to the scepticism and uncooperative personalities of the students. When Pierre returns next morning, Principal James is surprised and later explains that Rock’s brother was involved with a gang war; one of the casualties was a brother of LaRhette, who had refused to dance with Rock the day before.

At Pierre's dance studio, Caitlin is a student who is under pressure to learn to dance because her cotillion is fast approaching. Though she loves dancing, she is clumsy and feels like a failure, envying fellow student Morgan her graceful sensuality and saying to Pierre, "She's like sex on hardwood." This gives Pierre an idea how to reach out to the detention kids. He invites Morgan to give them a demonstration of the tango, which inspires the students to be more willing to learn. Caitlin decides to join them for dance class and practices with Monster. Though the other students accuse her of wanting to "tell her upperclass friends that she's slumming" at first, they gradually learn to accept her after she admits that she feels better with them than with Morgan and her group.

LaRhette, daughter of a prostitute, cares for her younger siblings while her mother works the streets. One night, she runs out of the apartment and to the school after one of her mother's clients attempts to rape her. Practicing her dancing in the basement, she runs into Rock. They fight and are caught by security. Principal James wants to suspend them both, but instead agrees to give them extra detention hours with Pierre each morning.

Pierre tells the class about a dance competition which he wishes them to enter, and this is further inspiration for the students to learn. Gradually they come to trust him and some visit his apartment to bring him their problems. When the detention basement is flooded, Pierre takes the students to his dance studio to practice. The youngsters become disenchanted by the skills of Pierre's students as well as the $200 entrance fee for the contest. However, Pierre manages to inspire them again and promises to provide the fee. LaRhette and Rock, who have now learned to respect each other, will compete in the waltz, and the rivals Ramos and Danjou learn to share Sasha during practice.

Mr. Temple has complained about the supposed waste of resources on the dance program. When Pierre is brought to a meeting with the parents' association, he convinces them to keep the program going after demonstrating how ballroom teaches the students "teamwork, respect, and dignity." On the night of the contest, Rock is told he must join the theft operation of the thugs with whom he has found work and shoot anyone who approaches. He shoots the sprinkler system instead, setting off the alarm and causing the thugs to run away.

At the competition, a $5000 prize is at stake. Sasha, Danjou, and Ramos perform an impressive three-person tango but are disqualified because it is a partner dance. Morgan calls it a tie and gives Sasha her trophy. Principal James, thrilled with the success of the program, insists on making it permanent and expanding it to more schools. Rock arrives at the last minute to dance the waltz with LaRhette, whom he kisses at the end.

The final credits roll as Pierre's students triumphantly dance to hip hop music, having tampered with the sound system.


  • Antonio Banderas - Pierre Dulaine: A renowned ballroom dance instructor who volunteers to teach delinquent school students in detention. A gentleman who treats everyone, especially the ladies, with respect and uses dance as a way to teach respect, manners and how to deal with personal issues. He is a widower and seems unconscious of the love felt for him by his partner in the dance studio.
  • Rob Brown - Jason "Rock" Rockwell: The brother of a teenager who died because of drugs, he has a longstanding feud with LaRhette, whose brother was allegedly the drug dealer. He lives in a poor neighborhood and supports his family. His father has been drunk since Rock's brother died and is violent. Rock wants nothing more than to own his own, "clean" place one day and to be nothing like his father. Despite this loathing, he still feels a duty towards his family and slips money through the door even when his father kicks him out. Rock is associated with the same drug dealing gang his brother was part of and later discovers that Ray was killed by the leader Easy because he "punked out" during a drug dealing heist.
  • Yaya DaCosta - LaRhette Dudley: Sassy and aggressive, she is shown to be both fierce and nurturing. Since her mother works as a prostitute, she takes care of her younger siblings, cooking for them and helping her younger brother with his homework. Despite knowing her mother's profession, she is fiercely protective of her and refuses to let anyone blacken her name.
  • Alfre Woodard - Principal Augustine James: No-nonsense and jaded, this woman is tough, hardened, and supremely dedicated to doing whatever she can to keep her school as safe as possible. She is shown to be an effective principal, balancing situations and knowing the name of almost every student, as well as their histories. At first she thinks of Pierre as an idealistic dreamer but grows to respect him for the changes in attitudes he is making.
  • John Ortiz - Mr. Joseph Temple: a teacher who only cares for academic success, he believes that the school should focus more on students who actually deserve help than to spend extra time with the delinquents. He was the one who refused to supervise detention the day that Pierre was hired. He later attempts to have Pierre's classes terminated and is shown up as an elitist prig.
  • Laura Benanti - Tina
  • Jasika Nicole - Egypt
  • Dante Basco - Ramos: Proud, cocky, and an obvious leader, he is openly flirtatious and a good dancer. He obviously wants Sasha, which leads to him constantly goading Danjou.
  • Elijah Kelley - Danjou: A quieter, less cocky young man, he has trouble dancing and is less aggressive than Ramos. He holds all his frustration inside, which finally explodes after Ramos makes one comment too many, which leads to a fistfight between the two.
  • Jenna Dewan - Sasha: A pretty and a talented dancer who is caught in a love triangle with Danjou and Ramos.
  • Brandon D. Andrews - Monster: A large, overweight boy with a soft heart, Monster is self-conscious but sweet. He befriends Caitlin and doesn't hesitate to separate Ramos and Danjou when they start fighting. Having practiced hard with Caitlin, he rescues her from falling during her cotillion and dances with her successfully.
  • Lauren Collins - Caitlin: Awkward and clumsy, and pressured by her parents' expectations, she feels out of place with Morgan and the other "better" dancers.
  • Marcus T. Paulk - Eddie: A childish young man who may well have stolen the new stereo system be brings to detention. He can D.J. and when the dance competition is over he tampers with the sound system and turns on rap music. He dances with Egypt in the competition.
  • Katya Virshilas - Morgan: An extremely talented dancer who moves both gracefully and sensually, she is arrogant and rude to the kids, whom she dismisses as "nobodies with no talent." At the end of the movie she has a change of heart.
  • Jonathan Malen - Kurd: A self-proclaimed "player", he is really frightened of his sexual urges, which he visits Pierre one evening to confess.
  • Shawand McKenzie - Big Girl: Monster's cousin, she is at first openly disgusted by Kurd's blatant sexual behavior, going so far as to wear gloves when she is forced to dance with him. She later warms to him as her partner.
  • Joseph Pierre - Trey

Box office and reaction[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $12.8 million, ranking a strong third in the North American box office. Overall, it grossed over $66 million worldwide,[2] even though many critics gave it mixed reviews, as it currently holds a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 119 reviews. Lewis Segal of the Los Angeles Times panned it as "old uninspired Hollywood hustle"[3] while Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, ranking it "D+", called the student actors "one-note cartoons" and described the combination of dance styles as "naked desperation to fuse demographics" on the part of the producers.[4]


Take the Lead (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released March 28, 2006
Recorded 2005-2006
Genre Hip hop, R&B, dance
Length 43:59
Label Republic/Universal
Producer Various
Singles from Take the Lead OST
  1. "Take the Lead (Wanna Ride)"
    Released: March 21, 2006

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "I Got Rhythm"   Lena Horne & Q-Tip 2:17
2. "Take The Lead (Wanna Ride)" (feat. Fatman Scoop & Melissa Jiménez) Bone Thugs-n-Harmony & Wisin & Yandel 3:28
3. "Feel It"   The Black Eyed Peas 4:21
4. "I Like That (Stop)"   Jae Millz 3:45
5. "These Days"   Rhymefest 3:40
6. "Here We Go"   Dirtbag 3:42
7. "Whuteva"   Remy Ma 3:47
8. "Ya Ya"   The Empty Heads 3:07
9. "Never Gonna Get It" (feat. Topic & Akon) Sean Biggs 3:37
10. "I Like That You Can't Take That Away From Me"   Jae Millz, June Christy, Eric B. & Rakim & Mashonda 2:29
11. "Fascination"   Kem 4:49
12. "Qué Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) Bonus Track"   Sly & The Family Stone 5:19


  1. ^ http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Take-the-Lead#tab=summary
  2. ^ "Take the Lead". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved April 26, 2006. 
  3. ^ Segal, Lewis (April 16, 2006). "Critic's Notebook". Los Angeles Times. p. E.34. 
  4. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (April 14, 2006). "Missed Step". Entertainment Weekly. p. 61. 

External links[edit]