Private Project

When the Lights Hit

Two ballroom dancers—one a big-league, seasoned professional from New York City and the other an instructor with big dreams from small-town Massachusetts—face parallel journeys as they grapple with unexpected changes in their lives and careers.

  • Meredith Slifkin
    JoAnn, Express
  • Meredith Slifkin
  • Meredith Slifkin
  • Danny Weeks
  • Aleksandar Dokuleski
    Key Cast
  • Tristan Reimann
    Key Cast
  • Ana Stojcheva
    Key Cast
  • Talia Carpinteri
    Key Cast
  • Pete Grana
    Key Cast
    "Anthony's Dad"
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Dance, Drama
  • Runtime:
    27 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 14, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    35,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Harvard University
Director Biography - Meredith Slifkin

Meredith Slifkin grew up in New York City before moving to Boston in 2015 to attend Harvard College, where she concentrated in Art, Film, & Visual Studies (formerly Visual & Environmental Studies), in the Film/Video Production track, graduating in May 2019. After taking two years off to pursue competitive ballroom dancing, Meredith has recently moved back to NYC and is currently working in unscripted television, hoping specifically to continue to bring dance-focused stories to the world. "When the Lights Hit" began as her senior thesis film, garnering highest departmental honors and a Hoopes Prize nomination.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"When the Lights Hit" follows two men who, though in different cities, from different backgrounds, and at different places in their lives and careers, are connected by their mutual passion for ballroom dance. Viktor Dimitrovski is at the pinnacle of the competitive world, living and training in New York City, until he faces unplanned and unwanted changes in his life when his long-time dance partner decides to move on. Anthony Swenson, meanwhile, teaches social dance in rural Massachusetts, happily working under his father’s protective eye in an environment that is fun, comfortable, and safe. However, when he witnesses Viktor’s side of the dance world for the first time, he suddenly finds his horizons drastically broadened. Both characters thus grapple with questions and changes in their lives, all of which ultimately force them to remember why it is that they dance, and what it is that they are doing it all for.

When I started ballroom dancing myself, not so long ago, I was immediately taken not only by the beauty of partnered movement and the sheer variety of what can fall under the term “ballroom,” but also by the community of people who make up this strange little world: people with completely different stories who all somehow ended up in the same place, taking different paths but led on by the same drive. Dance can be a social activity, a discipline, an emotional release. It can be, in a sense, whatever an individual needs in that moment. Similarly, it can function in several ways in film: as abstract movement, as metaphorical expression, as a symbol of love or freedom. In making this film, I wanted to continue my exploration of dance on camera, while also doing justice to the the stories of the people I have met and the world I have come to be a part of, presenting a more true-to-life vision of this world than what can be found in the romantic comedy takes that essentially make up all ballroom-focused mainstream films, as well as to ballroom dancing itself, as a hobby, a sport, an art, and, ultimately and above all, a form of self-expression.