Amapola’s Queen of Mambo

Argentinian director Eugenio Zanetti’s film Amapola (2014) constructs a slightly different utopia than Shakespeare did in his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Amapola Hotel on an enchanted island. Although the film engages with the looming specter of war and introduces time travel as a magical means of avoiding tragedy, Zanetti proposes dance as another fairytale means of “keeping time”: maintaining musical and interpersonal harmony for his characters. In this postcolonial realm, movement and mobility are means of rewriting history; as when the aging matriarch Clara gets a second chance to reclaim her feminine power on the dance floor as “Queen of the Mambo.”

“Queen of Mambo” Dance Scene from Amapola (2014)

The scene featured in this clip is a cross-cut editing sequence that alternates between the mambo, choreographed by Ricky Pashkus, and Roque and Titi’s budding romance, which accentuates the blurry world-blending of Shakespeare’s text. During the mambo, Ama’s parents exhibit the same jealous patterns characterized by Oberon and Titania in Shakespeare’s play. In this scene, they each incorporate external pawns in their seductive games, much as Oberon and Titania did with Theseus, Phillida, and Hippolyta (Act 2 Sc 1). The fusing of period costumes (bright and contemporary versus monochrome and dated), of social classes (a glimpse of a maid dancing alongside the guests), and of performance mediums (social dancing, hanging costumes for an upcoming theatrical performance) signals the topsy-turvy amalgamation of A (lover) and B (mechanical) plots in Shakespeare’s Midsummer. The dancers “sing and dance it trippingly” as a simultaneous love scene unfolds, which visually positions dance as a mode of seduction (Act 5 Sc 1).

Zanetti, who won an Academy Award for Best Set Direction in 1995, creates a sumptuous aural and visual landscape that idealizes the interdisciplinary fusion of film, theatre, opera, and dance. In this film, dance is a tool for generating romantic love, for intergenerational communication, and for asserting female autonomy. Amapola blends Shakespeare with its own Argentinean literary icon Jorge Luis Borges, by playing with magical realism and fantasy genres. The film also makes visual reference to Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Shakespeare film Romeo + Juliet, through its dizzying camera pans, its deployment of red velvet curtains, and its interpolation of lovemaking and social dance scenes.

-Ilana Gilovich-Wave, 2021

Video Clip Details
Title of Film: Amapola
Director: Eugenio Zanetti
Producer: Gonzalo Vila
Date of Release: June 15, 2014
Performers: Camilla Belle (Ama), Leonor Benedetto (Clara), Lito Cruz (Ramiro), Elena Roger (Titi), Juan Sorini (Roque), with ensemble dancers
Choreographer: Ricky Pashkus
Production Company: Cinema 7 Films
Film Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Date Published or Posted Online: Dec 13, 2021
Publisher: Dancing Shakespeare
Source URL:
More Info:  A modern film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Gilovich-Wave, Ilana. “Amapola‘s Queen of Mambo.” The Shakespeare and Dance Project, edited by Linda McJannet and Emily Winerock, December 17, 2021. Accessed [date].

Updated December 17, 2021.

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