Most spring formals, be they for school or camp or community programs, are veritable social minefields. Full of potentially insurmountable faux pas, they threaten to derail entire teenage lives should they go wrong.
For the young people in HBO’s new documentary, How to Dance in Ohio, the stakes are even higher. The three stars of the film—Marideth Bridges, 16; Caroline McKenzie, 19; and Jessica Sullivan, 22—are all on the autism spectrum, and the doc follows them as they prepare for their first spring social. Learning how to navigate the event while also managing a disorder whose very definition is, in part, difficulty reading and communicating social cues, proves a massive challenge, but for these young women, it’s not a challenge to which they cannot rise.
The documentary, helmed by Alexandra Shiva (Bombay Eunuch), tracks the girls as they learn how to make small talk, how to find things like bathrooms and exits, and how to interact with their dates. The three know each other from a group for young people with autism, and as they discover that this dance is well within their realm of possibility, they begin to wonder what else they’re capable of. Catch it tonight at 9 p.m. PST.