Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Dance Documentary 'Hot to Trot' Gets Cleveland Film Screening Next Week 

click to enlarge ernesto-nilcoli_3-2.jpg

Photo by Curt Worden

When Gail Freedman came to Cleveland three years ago to film scenes at the Gay Games for her documentary movie Hot to Trot, which provides a look at the "fascinating but little-known" world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, she wasn't sure what to expect.

"I knew the Gay Games would be a hoot, but you never know," she says via phone. She'll host a local screening of the film at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Cedar Lee Theatre. "The dancers didn't know if there would be protests or homophobia. It felt like the city rolled out the red carpet for them. People were so welcoming, and the atmosphere was extraordinary. I hadn't been there in a long time. I was impressed by how great the city looked and surprised that there was so much of a vibrant arts scene."

When she began the film in 2012, she says she had a "more conventional notion in mind," in the sense that she thought she would shoot at the Gay Games and that would be the end of the film. But after chronicling the preparation that various dancers went through leading up to the Gay Games and then capturing their performances at the event, she felt like the movie wasn't done.

 "I then knew we had to keep shooting and bring the lives full circle," she says. "I knew when I left Cleveland, that it was going to be the climax. And it is. It also opens the movie."

The film provides a truly compassionate portrayal of its subjects. Many of the dancers speak about what it was like to come out to their parents and friends, and others talk openly about other personal issues. 

 "I'm grateful that [the dancers] opened themselves to me and shared vulnerable parts of themselves to me," says Freeman. "They trusted that I was going to portray them and not candy-coat it but portray them with integrity. I'm not part of their community. They didn't know me before. They obviously got to know me and got to trust me. I know it sounds self-serving, but I think one of my assets is my authenticity, and I guess that came across to them."

 In the wake of completing the film, Freedman says she thinks of the dancers as family. And she hopes the film shows how dance represents something deeply meaningful to her subjects. 

 "They really did become more than interview subjects; they became friends," says Freedman. "We have indeed been all over the world together. There really is this human connection, and that doesn't happen on every documentary."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 6, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show 45th Anniversary Spectacular @ E. J. Thomas Hall

    • Fri., Oct. 22
  • The Haunted Cinematheque @ Cleveland Cinematheque

    • Thu., Oct. 28

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation