Polka Dot Alley follows young dancers, age nine to twelve, from the Linda Vega Dance Studio on a journey filled with passion, tears, and pride culminating in the historic Old Spanish Days Fiesta Santa Barbara, a weeklong California celebration where only one dancer will be awarded the coveted title “Junior Spirit of Fiesta.”

Linda’s celebrated versatility as a choreographer and generosity as a teacher are revealed as she tirelessly works to prepare her dancers weeks before performance —shopping for treasured polka dot fabric, designing yet another season of flamboyant costumes, and, in the studio, modeling the subtleties of flirtation and panache so typical of flamenco. Remarkable for its improvisational style, the film takes the viewer behind the scenes as Linda’s choreography and step by step interpretations of the compás (rhythmic beat) eventually transform experimental studio work to evocative on stage eloquence.

The film tracks the dancers at home, backstage and in group and solo performance as each connects to the challenges, frustrations and hopes Linda instills. As red lipstick is applied, curly hair recreated into smooth chignons and colorful flounces added to waistlines, the dancers are transformed physically and spiritually eventually learning to embrace the spirit of flamenco. The dancers gain confidence as they discover how—with sure footwork, quick snaps of a fan and the saucy turns of a Spanish shawl—they can control the tempo and haunting rhythms of the guitar and palmas and, ultimately, the intensity of the audience experience.