“Leading Ladies” puts lesbians at the center of the dance floor

When Lance Bass signed on to be a contestant for Dancing With the Stars, viewers and the media asked if he would dance with a male partner. "Of course not," ABC said. His partner would be a woman.

But why couldn’t it have been a man? It would have made for much more interesting TV. And dance on television is all the rage lately, from the celeb competition to Dance Your Ass Off, America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance. But where are the lesbians? Non-existent, if you ask the networks.

Enter Erika Randall, writer/director/choreographer of Leading Ladies. The film is debuting at LGBT film festivals this summer, and focuses on two sisters: one of whom comes out and begins to date the girl who will become her partner in a ballroom competition.

"Having dance back in the mainstream has been a huge factor in generating excitement about fundraising for and interest in the film," Randall said. "People who have never cared about dance before, now watch SYTYCD and Dancing with the Stars and were excited to be a part of a low-budget independent film that featured world- class dancing. That world-class dancing has brought an entirely different audience to a film that celebrates the love story of two women and has no straight kisses."

Leading Ladies follows Tasi, a competitive dancer, and her sister Toni, a tomboy always in her sister’s shadow. Their mother, Sheri, is overbearing and eccentric and rests all of her hopes and dreams on Tasi becoming the best dancer possible. But Tasi becomes pregnant and Toni begins to discover she, too, likes dancing — with other girls — and things get complicated.

"We knew casting Toni would be the pivot of the film, as she is the central character and LL is ultimately her story," Randall said of casting Laurel Veil. "It’s difficult to find an actress who can be sparkly and the background wallflower, be a strong lead dancer but not have total confidence in herself physically/sexually."

Randall said that they knew she’d be perfect for Toni when she read alongside Nicole Dionne, who played Toni’s love interest, Mona. "Only one problem," Randall said. "Laurel couldn’t dance — at all. After the tango auditions we panicked; she was perfect in so many ways, subtle, funny, tender — but she really couldn’t dance."

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