The magical world of film entertains, inspires and sometimes takes us to other worlds. For many, an interesting storyline is what makes a film great. For others it is excellent cinematography or casting; but for dance-enthusiasts like me, what draws us in and makes a film truly memorable is often times a great dance scene.
Since the best dance movie moments can be tough to narrow down and are completely subjective, I thought I would start with some films that might not yet be on everyone’s radar. And despite the claim that dance movies lack substance, many on this list could not be faulted as such and are worth checking out!
Musical Chairs – A story about rising from tragedy and overcoming impossible odds to reach ones dream, the lead characters struggle through various challenges to enter a wheel chair ballroom dance competition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKFOSNNDZkU
War Dance – This 2002 documentary follows groups of Ugandan school children who use music and dance to heal the ravaging effects that decades of civil war has inflicted upon them.
The Little Colonel – This black & white classic features the famous staircase tap dance scene with Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Once a must see film for budding ballerinas and tap dancers, it is sure to become a treasure for future generations to embrace.
Royal Wedding – Arguably one of the most recognizable dance numbers from any film, Fred Astaire’s infamous hat rack dance has since been imitated by numerous artists over the years.
Beat Street – The 80’s ushered in a slew of popular dance films, a few of which focused on the break dance craze that swept the nation. Eventually becoming a cult classic, Beat Sreet featured electrifying music, colorful fashion trends and captivating dance moves.
African Dance: Sand, Drum, and Shostakovich – An informative, visual treat that highlights various international dance companies, while exploring the depth and diversity of their repertoire which reflects the richness of the African Diaspora. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KNbyP97iD8
Dancing Across Borders – This documentary features a young man’s journey from a small village in Cambodia to the bustling streets of New York City, as he struggles to become a professional dancer while adapting to a new culture and way of life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtVWON4fqCI
ABCD: Anybody Can Dance – Released in 2013; India’s first 3D film is a familiar story of an underdog who comes out on top. What makes this a standout is its great variety of exciting dance styles and use of 3D technology that aren’t typically seen in traditional Bollywood style films.
Breath Made Visible – Considered a dance icon, 93 year old Ana Halprin’s views on dance, art and their transformative effects are examined in this documentary, which also features special interviews, excerpts and archival performance footage.
The Tango Lesson – Part fiction, part reality, this story follows the relationship of film-maker Sally Potter and tango dancer Pablo Veron. Causing a bit of an uproar from some critics following its release, this film is sure to strike a cord with Argentine tango enthusiasts in particular.
If these films’ soul-stirring stories don’t move you, the catchy music and mesmerizing moves sure will!