Top Ten Dances in Movie History
As we all slavishly wait to see Ballet-thriller Black Swan (out today!), I decided to soothe those dance longings with a top ten. That’s right, it’s another top ten. You can call me Mrs Schadenfreude, but there’s nothing I love more than watching actors pant their way through dance sequences while sitting on the sofa eating Frazzles (or any bacon-flavoured snack of choice)
Two things to bear in mind: putting stuff like Step Up 2: The Streets on the list absolutely does not mean that I recommend watching these films in any way, shape or form. Also, there’s a glorious mashup of all ten dances at the bottom of this post – but I will know if you’ve skipped the writing bit.
10. An American in Paris (1951)
When you have a song number by Gershwin, choreography by Gene Kelly and a gamine Leslie Caron, there’s no going wrong, really. Be swept around the Parisian riverside in a sixteen minute segment, which is roughly four times my flea-like attention span. The sequence cost half a million US dollars back in 1951, which is like, oh, probably a billion dollars now. Despite it probably showcasing the best dancing out of all the scenes, it comes tenth because, well, it’s old and stuff.
9. Step Up 2: The Streets (2008)
A dance troupe are kicked out of a club for not being ghetto enough and take their swagger to the rain-soaked streets to prove their worth. The power of a couple of car headlights not only light up the entire scene, but also follow the individual dancers around, which is asking a lot of our trust in terms of reality. I don’t really get the point they’re trying to prove: if you’re educated at a dance school, then you can dance better than those other kids who work for a living? Way to kick’em when they’re down, jeez. Still, if you like scantily clad dancers dripping wet, and who doesn’t really, this is a must see.
8. Chicago (2002)
The revenge anthem for scorned women everywhere, the story punctuating the ‘Cell Block Tango’ could’ve been a whole other movie. The girls on Murderesses’ Row recount their past misdeeds through glorious dance, renouncing the usual prison meme of never, ever admitting you did it. It contains the amazing line: “You could say we had artistic differences. He saw himself as alive, and I…didn’t.” I for one couldn’t stop singing. “pop.Six. Squish. Uh uh. Cicero. Lipschitz’ for a long long time, despite really not having a idea as to what I was talking about.
7. Love Actually (2003)
Hugh Grant vigorously rotating his bottom to ‘Jump! (For My Love)’ has to be one of the most memorable dance sequences in British history, with Richard Curtis keeping things fresh using a Girls Aloud bastardization of the Pointer Sisters. As well as mum-crush Grant shaking his tailfeather around Number Ten, you also get to see a neat trick; with every bum swivel, watch Hugh’s career magically disappear.
6. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Olive (Abigail Breslin) challenges standardized notions of female beauty in her epic dance to ‘Superfreak’ by party boy Rick James. When a chubby girl with a top hat, tie and removable tracksuit trousers announces that her burlesque dance is in honour of her granddad, who: ‘showed me these moves’, you know it’s gonna be a good show. The sight of her shaking her thang along to such lyrical gems as ‘she’s a very kinky girl. The kind you don’t take home to motherrrr’ is disturbingly cute.
5. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Any detractors of this epic movie can sit down and shut up, because I have ovaries so it’s going in. But what bit to choose? I’ve gone for the heartbeat scene – y’know, where he puts her hand on his heart and goes. “boom BOOM. Boom BOOM” ostensibly to hear the beats of the music, but come on now Swayze, no-one’s fooled. ‘Hungry Eyes’ is the name of the song….and now I want a sandwich.
4. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Napoleon, a high school student spends his time feeding the family’s pet llama, doodling ligers in class and getting bullied. His friend Pedro goes up against cheerleading droid Summer for class president, but does badly after learning that candidates have to prepare a skit after their speech. In a stunning display of friendship, Napoleon puts on Jamiroquai’s ‘Canned Heat’ and tears up the floor in a display of abandon rarely seen outside the bedroom with the curtains closed.
3. Pulp Fiction (1994)
I don’t understand how people didn’t realise John Travolta enjoys a male sauna now and again, when he literally dances in ALL of his movies. Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Pulp Fiction have all included some nifty footwork from the Travolt, and god bless him I say. This time, though, he is seedy and pony-tailed, and joined by Uma Thurman as they perform some dance floor classics, including (but not limited to): the ski, the hula, the cowgirl and the front crawl.
2. Footloose (1984)
Ren McCormack (even his name is plucky) turns up in Nowheresville, Idaho, where an evil Reverend has banned dancing and that danged rock music. It’s sort of like Rebel Without a Cause, only instead of car chicken (driving a car towards a cliff, and the first one to stop is the chicken) there is tractor chicken. Enjoy the eighties fashion, with crimping, too short trousers and a whole lot of velvet bowties. Also Kevin Bacon’s face, which is so cute I’d like it to immortalize it on a decorative plate. Highly watchable, and if ‘tractor chicken’ hasn’t swung it for you then I don’t know what will.
We said the dances had to be memorable, ok? Not good. The single most cringeworthy moment in the Harry Potter franchise, and that’s including Rupert Grint’s slack-jawed yokelling, which seemed to be his entire acting range in Potters one and two. Harry and Hermione, racked with despair in the wake of Ron-ron’s departure decide to dance it out, with Dan Radcliffe swivelling like a broken-backed seal supposedly alleviating the pain. Only watch if you can safely relive those awkward teenage years, or if you were a cool teenager like in Skins and spent your time taking LSD instead of going to school dances.