Filmmaker: Alexandra Shiva
Runtime: 89 minutes
A first kiss, a first dance. These are the rites of passage of American youth that hold the promise of magic, romance and initiation into adulthood. For kids from all walks of life, these first steps toward intimacy are at once exciting and terrifying. For some teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum, the transition can be nothing less than paralyzing. In Columbus, Ohio, a group of young people with an array of developmental challenges prepares for an iconic event – a spring formal dance. They spend 12 weeks confronting and practicing their social skills as they prepare for the big event, to be hosted at a local disco. Working with their trusted psychologist, they deconstruct fear and larger-than-life social anxiety one step at a time by picking dates, dresses, and, ultimately, a King and Queen of the Prom. HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO is a story of the universal human need to grow, connect and belong as uniquely dramatized by individuals facing the deepest struggle toward social survival.
About The Filmmaker
Alexandra Shiva graduated from Vassar College in 1995 with a BA in Art History. After spending extensive time in India, she produced and directed BOMBAY EUNUCH, a feature-length documentary that follows a makeshift family of eunuchs as they struggle to survive in modern Bombay. In 2001, BOMBAY EUNUCH was awarded Best Documentary at New Yorkʼs New Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival and was followed by a 6-week theatrical release.
Alexandraʼs second documentary STAGEDOOR follows five kids through a musical theater summer camp program in the Catskills. STAGEDOOR premiered at SXSW in 2005, and in 2006 had its theatrical debut at Film Forum in New York and aired on Sundance Channel.
In 2010 she created a short film for Turnaround For Children, a non-profit education reform organization based in New York and Washington DC.
Her third feature documentary HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO world premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It focuses on a group of teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum preparing for an iconic American rite of passage — a Spring Formal.