Take the Lead

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For the song, see Take the Lead (Wanna Ride).
Take the Lead
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Liz Friedlander
Produced by Christopher Godsick
Michelle Grace
Diane Nabatoff
Written by Dianne Houston
Starring Antonio Banderas
Alfre Woodard
John Ortiz
Rob Brown
Yaya DaCosta
Dante Basco
Elijah Kelley
Jenna Dewan
Music by Bonnie Greenberg
Swizz Beatz
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
April 7, 2006
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $65.7 million[2]

Take the Lead is a 2006 drama dance film directed by Liz Friedlander, and starring Antonio Banderas as dance instructor Pierre Dulaine, the founder of Dancing Classrooms. It also stars Alfre Woodard, John Ortiz, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta, Dante Basco, Elijah Kelley, and Jenna Dewan. The film was released on April 7, 2006. Although based in New York City, it was filmed in Toronto. Stock footage of various locations in New York City were used.


A group of students prepare for a school dance. Rock arrives with a damaged ticket and is denied entry by Mr. Temple and Principal James. After leaving, Rock and a group of thugs proceed to vandalize the Principal's car. Pierre Dulaine catches them in the act, but they flee before Pierre is able to interrogate them further.

The next morning, Pierre arrives at the school to see the Principal. After explaining that he witnessed her car being vandalized, Pierre offers to take over the detention shift and teach them ballroom dancing. 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. His first class is disastrous due to the scepticism and uncooperative personalities of the students. When Pierre returns the next morning, Principal James is surprised. She explains that Rock’s brother, Ray, was involved in a gang war; one of the casualties was LahRhette's brother, who refused to dance with Rock the day before.

At Pierre's dance studio, Caitlin is under pressure to learn to dance because her cotillion is fast approaching. Though she loves dancing, she feels like a failure. She envies Morgan for her graceful sensuality and says to Pierre that she is "like sex on hardwood." This gives Pierre an idea of how to reach out to the kids in detention. 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 friends.

LaRhette, the 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. While practicing her dancing, she runs into Rock, who'd snuck down there to sleep after losing his job and getting kicked out of his house after a physical confrontation with his drunken father. They fight and are caught by security. Principal James wants to suspend them both, but agrees to give them extra detention instead.

Pierre tells the class about a dance competition that he wants to enter them in. Gradually, the students begin to trust Pierre; some even visit his apartment to discuss 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 pay 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 schools resources being supposedly wasted 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 dancing has taught the students "teamwork, respect, and dignity". On the night of the contest, Rock is told he must participate in a theft. He intentionally shoots the sprinkler system, setting off the alarm and causing the thugs to flee.

At the competition, it is announced that a $5000 prize will be given to the winning team. Sasha, Danjou, and Ramos perform an impressive three-person tango but are disqualified because the event is a "partner" dance. Morgan calls it a tie and gives Sasha her trophy. Principal James, impressed 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.

Closing exposition
Since "Dancing Classrooms" was created by Pierre Dulaine, it has grown to involve 42 instructors and more than 12,000 students in 120 New York City public schools. It is currently expanding across America.


  • Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine: A renowned ballroom dance instructor who volunteers to teach the delinquent school students in detention.
  • Alfre Woodard as Principal Augustine James: She thinks Pierre is an idealistic dreamer, but grows to respect him for the changes he has made to the students' attitudes.
  • John Ortiz as Mr. Joseph Temple: A teacher who only cares for academic success. He believes the school should focus more on supporting students who deserve help.
  • Rob Brown as Jason "Rock" Rockwell: His brother died through using drugs, and he has a longstanding feud with LaRhette, whose brother was allegedly the dealer.
  • Yaya DaCosta as LaRhette Dudley: Her mother works as a prostitute, so she takes care of her younger siblings; cooking for them and helping them with their homework.
  • Dante Basco as Ramos: He is openly flirtatious and a good dancer. He has an ongoing feud with Danjou.
  • Elijah Kelley as Danjou: A quiet young man who has trouble dancing.
  • Jenna Dewan as Sasha Bulut: A pretty and a talented dancer. She is caught in a love triangle with Danjou and Ramos.
  • Laura Benanti as Tina
  • Jasika Nicole as Egypt
  • Brandon D. Andrews as Monster: A large and overweight pupil who befriends Caitlin.
  • Lauren Collins as Caitlin: Pressured by her parents' expectations, she feels out of place with Morgan and the other "better" dancers.
  • Marcus T. Paulk as Eddie: A talented DJ, he tampers with the sound system when the dance competition is over and turns on rap music.
  • Katya Virshilas as Morgan: A gifted dancer, she is arrogant and rude to the others in detention; dismissing them as "nobodies with no talent."
  • Jonathan Malen as Kurd: A self-proclaimed "player", he confides in Pierre that he is very frightened of his sexual urges.
  • Shawand McKenzie as Big Girl: Mountain's cousin. At first, she openly disgusted by Kurd's blatant sexual behavior; going so far as to wear gloves when she is forced to dance with him, but later warms up to him.
  • Joseph Pierre as Trey

The film also stars Alison Sealy-Smith and Phillip Jarrett as Rock's parents; Jo Chim as Gretchen; Kevin Hanchard as Woodley; Joseph Pierre as Trey; Lyriq Bent as Easy; and Sharron Matthews as Ms. Rosemead.



Banderas had no interest in doing the film at first. He wasn't even bothered to read the script.[3]

Banderas initially turned the producers down; not even bothering to read the script. The thought of ballroom dancing sounded "so cheesy",[3] and he felt the film didn't have much of a story. He said to his agent: "nah, I don't want to do this", but after much persuasion, he agreed to meet with the producers; giving them a chance to at least "explain what" they were "trying to do". Once they showed Banderas a documentary on Pierre Dulaine, he said he "loved" it.[4] He found Dulaine to be "very" fascinating.[4]

Many of the "kids" had little or no acting experience prior to being cast in Take the Lead. Brandon Andrews, who portrayed Monster, had just "graduated [from high school] and had "never auditioned [for a film] before". At the time of his discovery, he was playing on the "football team at Dominguez High School in Compton, California".[5] Likewise, the film marked the feature film debut of Yaya DaCosta. Her only acting experience before the film had been starring in an episode of Eve. Lauren Collins was cast under similar circumstances; like DaCosta, Take the Lead was her first feature film. Although she had the advantage of having worked on various TV shows and television movies since 1998, she found the "entire process" of making a feature film different to working on television.[6] On the other hand, Rob Brown was already a fairly established actor. He was studying at college when cast as Jason "Rock" Rockwell, and graduated after the film's release.[7]


Take the Lead premiered on March 17, 2006 at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.[8] It was released in Israel on April 6, 2006, followed by the United States and Canada on April 7. Theatrical releases continued to occur around the world until July 14, 2007.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Metacritic reports a score of 55 out of 100 (based on 30 critics), indicating a "mixed or average" reviews.[10] Rotten Tomatoes reports a similar score; 44 percent of critics gave the film a positive review (based on 119 reviews - 52 "fresh" and 67 "rotten"), with an average rating of 5.4 out of 10.[11]

Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, awarded three out of four stars. Having seen the "charming" documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, he anticipated the "general direction" the film would take. While the film wasn't "particularly original" and lacked the impact of earlier "classroom parables"; Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me , Antonio Banderas was "reason enough" to see the film. From Ebert's perspective, the film was "more fable than record", and "more wishful thinking than a plan of action". He event went as far as to question the accuracy of the film's the closing exposition, which says of Dulaine's success later in life (after the events of the film).[12]

Box office performance[edit]

The film earned $4.2 million on its opening day, debuting third place at the domestic box office. It grossed a further $4.9 million on the second day, and another $3 million on the third. In its opening weekend, Take the Lead grossed a total of $12.1 million at the domestic box office. The film's performance proceeded to fluctuate; depending on the day, gross takings could increase by as much as 110 percent and vice versa. The film ultimately grossed a total of $34.7 million at the U.S. box office,[13] and $31 million at the international box office, bringing the worldwide gross to $66 million.[2]

Release date(s) Production budget[1] Box office revenue[2]
United States Other markets Worldwide
April 6, 2006 (Israel)
April 7, 2006 (United States/Canada)
April 13, 2006 to July 14, 2007(Multiple countries)
$30,000,000 $34,742,066 $31,000,643 $65,742,529

Home video[edit]

On August 29, 2006, Take the Lead was released on DVD by New Line Cinema.[14] As of September 22, 2015, the film has grossed $21.2 million in domestic home video sales.[15]


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 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  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
Total length: 43:59


  1. ^ a b Take the Lead (2006), www.the-numbers.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  2. ^ a b c Box office date for Take the Lead (2006), www.boxofficemojo.com, retrieved 04-26-2006.
  3. ^ a b Longsdorf, Amy. "Take the Lead: Banderas finds dance makes the human connection In his own words", www.articles.mcall.com, published 04-06-2006. Retrieved 09-23-2015.
  4. ^ a b Fischer, Paul. "Antonio Banderas interview for Take the Lead", www.darkhorizons.com, published 04-06-2008. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  5. ^ Carroll, Larry. "Antonio Banderas may Take The Lead in creating hip-hop/ballroom dance trend, www.mtv.com, published 10-26-2005. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  6. ^ Malen, Daniel. "A conversation with Lauren Collins", www.thetvaddict.com, published 05-11-2006. Retrieved 09-23-2015.
  7. ^ Williams, Kam. "Rob Brown: Express-ing Himself (Interview)", www.aalbc.com, publish date unknown. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  8. ^ "History of the RiverRun International Film Festival, www.riverrunfilm.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  9. ^ "Take the Lead international theatrical release dates", www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  10. ^ "Take the Lead critical reception", Metacritic. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  11. ^ "Take the Lead critical reception", Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Take the Lead (2006) film review", www.rogerebert.com, published 04-06-2006. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  13. ^ "Breakdown of the domestic gross for Take the Lead", www.the-numbers.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  14. ^ "Take the Lead home video release", www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.
  15. ^ "Take the Lead home video gross, www.the-numbers.com. Retrieved 09-22-2015.

External links[edit]