And Then We Danced ★★★½

At first it feels like a traditional underdog tale, set in the works of Georgian dance, of which I fully admit I know nothing.  Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is from a family of dancers, all of whom are talented yet now live impoverished lives; he and his irresponsible brother still pursue the craft, though Merab is constantly criticized for his style (“there is no sexuality in Georgian dance,” his unsupportive instructor admonishes him) and he waits tables to help make ends meet.  Then the miraculous opportunity— an opening for a male dancer on the National Ensemble.  And a new challenger, brash and talented replacement dancer Irakli (Bachi Valishvili).  It seems familiar stuff... except that Merab is sexually drawn to his competitor, in an environment where homosexuality is a taboo violently enforced.  Gelbakhiani’s vulnerable performance, Akin’s slyly complex direction and an exuberant climactic scene elevate this irresistible coming of age piece.