Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Baker’s Dozen of the Best Dance Movies

Just for fun...this is a list of my favorite dance movies. I've listed them chronologically first. Then I've classified and annotated the list, tho I've only posted five of them here. I'll post the rest soon. I hope you will include your own favorites.
My list excludes filmed ballets or stage performances by dance companies.

To make it to my list, all of following criterion must have been satisfied:
1. First and Foremost, the movie must include outstanding choreographers and outstanding dancers.
2. Dance must be the featured art or at least hold equal standing to music and song.
3. The film must integrate dance and plot. Many early musical films did not have strong storylines or characters.

THE LIST (chronological)
Swing Time 1936
Singing in the Rain 1952
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 1954
Oklahoma 1955
West Side Story 1961
Cabaret 1972
All That Jazz 1979
Tap 1989
Strictly Ballroom 1992
Swing Kids 1993
Chicago 2002
Stomp The Yard 2007
Hairspray 2007

The following is an Annotated List with You Tube links for five movies.

The following movies are about the desire to dance, a passion so compelling that no other social force can withstand it. I love these love-of-dance stories. Plus, the producers of these films respected the art of dance enough to hire excellent dancers.

Tap 1989 Choreography by Henry LeTang, starring Gregory Hines and including an old Sammy Davis Jr. (this was his last movie) and a young Savion Glover (in his first movie). It also features a number of other senior and junior hoofers. Hines’ character must choose between a lucrative life of crime and dancing. (Guess which one wins!)

Strictly Ballroom 1992 choreography by John O’Connell is Baz Luhrmann’s tribute to Australian ballroom dancers. The protagonist is torn between conventional ballroom dance style and his desire to “dance his own steps.”

Swing Kids 1993 This is based on true events under Hitler’s Germany. Swing dance and music was prohibited as the decadent creation of American Blacks and Jews. In 1941, 300 Swing Kids (German: Swingjugend) were arrested by the SS and accused of political dissent. Many were sent to concentration camps where a number of them died or were executed for their crime of dancing. The swing dance sequences are exuberant examples of the social chaos Hitler was afraid of.

Stomp The Yard 2007 It opens with a freestyle and deadly serious breakdance battle and concludes with a highly synchronized and syncopated fraternal stepping competition. Interestingly, the winning crew injects into their stepping routine the spirit and style of breaking and the protagonist learns the value teamwork.

Hairspray 2007 Adam Shankman’s upbeat choreography is light-hearted but the story is based on real racial relations in the 1950s and how dance and music helped to reduce those barriers.

Billy Elliot 2000 the story of an 11-year-old son of a coal miner who finds it hard to accept that his son wants to study ballet.


  1. I desperately want to see Billy Elliot on Broadway, it looks so much better than the movie!

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