Season 5, Episode 12: Dance, Diane, Dance

dance diane

Original Air Date: December 18, 1986.

Written By:  Jeff Abugov

Plot: Diane gets a scathing review from her dance teacher, and Frasier, trying to soften the blow, rewrites it before she sees it.  Based on that false encouragement, Diane decides to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina by auditioning for the Boston Ballet.  Sam and Frasier confess the deception and save her from humiliation just in the nick of time.

Thoughts: Oh, Diane.  Still the dreamer even after all these years at Cheers.  Her spirit and determination are admirable if a bit far fetched.  I love that she is still in hot pursuit of her creative and artistic endeavors, and I found myself getting angry with her ballet teacher for so conclusively squashing her dream.  I mean, really, how bad could she be?  Not for nothing, but Diane moves like a swan through that bar on a regular basis.  Her flourishes and turns are always the picture of grace, so it feels like a stretch to have her turn out to be an irredeemable clodhopper as Madame Lihkova's letter would have us believe.  Instead, I'm going to choose to believe that Madame Lihkova's just a huge bitch.

Anyway, despite the rest of the gang reveling in her failed assessment, Sam and Frasier care enough about her to stop them, and Frasier takes it one step further.  Discarding Lihkova's harsh letter, he rewrites it, shielding her from Lihkova's slings and arrows, never realizing the result would embolden Diane to consider a career in dance.  A little encouragement goes a long way with Diane Chambers.  She will run marathons with faint praise, let alone the kind of glowing words Frasier gives her.  

After seeming to have been content with just a lovely review, Diane has a conversation with Norm that pushes her to take her dreaming to the next level.  She resolves to send her audition tape to the Boston Ballet that very night.  I have to say here that I adore the combination of Diane and Norm.  The irrepressible dreamer and the hopeless realist are wonderful in juxtaposition, and their mutual kindness is lovely.  Diane is supportive and encouraging of Norm, and he is patient and sweet with her.  I wish they had more scenes like this together.  

Leave it to Diane to aim for the highest of heights and go to the Boston Ballet for her first professional outing.  Not content to merely send an unanswered video tape, she decides to go straight to the company in person.  And oh my GOD, is she adorable in her dance gear and ponytail.   Dance was one of my majors in college, and I lived in black leotards, so I had to smile at the head to toe electric blue ensemble-- even the ballet slippers match!  By the way, Diane, your cute slippers are not street shoes!  Incidentally, I recognize those slippers from Homicidal Ham, which also made me grin.  Her warm up at the "barre" is perfection.  Diane just does not give a damn.  God bless you, Shelley Long.

Diane is the picture of confidence at the Boston Ballet audition.  Imagine the nerve it would take to crash a rehearsal like that, let alone make the kind of speech she does to the choreographer.  It is unheard of, but again, that's our Diane!  Oh, and she has blue toe shoes to boot!  Her words are impassioned and touching, as she acknowledges her late start in pursuing her dream.  As ever, she is willing to make herself completely vulnerable to others with earnest naivete.  It is painful to hear this idealist acknowledge her lost years and limitations, and yet inspiring that she has such belief in herself even after all her failures to date.  All the more devastating is the moment when Frasier whispers cruel reality in her ear just as she is about to live her passion.  "Never mind" are her simple exit words, but as she leaves the stage, her look back at the other dancers and the death of yet another dream is heartbreaking in volumes.

And just because I love it, here is Diane's speech:

"I don’t have much time myself.  A dancer’s career is not a long one— I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I have a dream… to be a dancer.  And in order for it to come true, you must see me dance.  Oh yes, my technique is not quite as polished as it should be, but is that all there is to art— mere technique?  Or is it not the passion and emotion and pain that lie deep within our souls?  For I have that emotion… I have felt that pain.  I am a feeling person.  And I can communicate those feelings to you through dance.  So, judge me not by what my arms and legs are doing.  Judge me by what I make you feel.  But most importantly, judge me.  For I must dance!  Damn it, I must!”  

Random: Frasier, Diane never mocked or ridiculed you.  Despite her failings in that relationship, she was nothing but apologetic and patient with your nonsense for a very long time afterward.

 "Although I was blessed with a swan-like neck and natural grace, I abandoned my dream of becoming a prima ballerina and concentrated instead on my career as a novelist." "Which explains why you're here in a bar pushing beers." "Excuse me Diane, isn't your apartment on fire?" "I wanted to come here myself and tell her not to dance anymore." "Yeah sure, she mocked me, debased me, humiliated me, ridiculed me, finally left me at the altar, but you never really can forget your first love, can you?" "Soul of a dancer." "We're horsing around!" "You know how to lock up, right Norman?" "Are you kidding? I'm the one who taught you!" "Alone in a bar. Maybe Diane is right-- I guess dreams can come true!" "You're afraid of losing me to the world of ballet." "Please, please, please don't do this!" "With love like this in my corner, how could I possibly fail?" "Never mind."