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The Movies and Dance (Part 1)

Updated on March 1, 2013

Would you care to dance?

The combination of dance and a great storyline has always had that indelible quality to transport it's viewer. Dance portrays human drama. Uninhibited bodies effortlessly translating emotion into expression.

From Vaudeville to Youtube, dance has been at the cornerstone of movie-making. During the golden age, it was the norm to expect all actors to be in possession of the triple threat. The ability to sing, dance and act were routinely part of the auditioning process. Musical talent was considered just that important.

The impact of combining dance and film has a way of inspiring and raising human spirit. Add a dance number, an unexpected and welcome surprise, and it has the power to elevate the film to the next level.

Here are 10 examples of the most popular dance scenes of all time.














SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (You Should be Dancing)

1. Flash Dance ~ Set in the working class mid-west, Flashdance is ultimately a fairytale to the sexiest degree. Jessica Beal who played "Alex" a struggling mine worker and who moonlighted at the local strip club, was really just a dedicated dancer at heart. When Flashdance came out, it had women everywhere ripping their sweatshirts and wanting to give stripper poles a whirl. Romantic, high energy and well constructed dance scenes solidified Flashdance's place securely in dance history.

2. Fame ~ Fame was released on May 16, 1980, and was built upon the theme that "If they've got what it takes, it's going to take everything they've got". A High School for the Performing Arts in the middle of New York CIty. Students strive for higher creativity, fine-tuning God-given skills and hope that their individuality can lead them on the way to stardom. "Fame! I'm going to live forever". Inspiring and moments that are genuinely moving. Irene Cara was introduced.

3. Dirty Dancing ~ The story follows 17 year old "Baby Houseman" and her time spent in her family's usual getaway spot in the Catskills. What follows is the schooling into womanhood in the truest sense of the meaning. The resort's resident bad boy and hired dance instructor takes Baby on a journey of slow seduction. Oh yeah, and the dancing isn't bad either. Patrick Swayze proved to be as smooth on the dance floor as he was in delivering his lines to his adorable co-star Jennifer Grey.

4. Pulp Fiction ~ Quentin Tarantine paints a satirical portrait of Los Angeles in all it's underground complications and inner turmoil. Gangsters run amuck. Sarcastic and full of irony, John Travolta plays "Vincent Vega" and the beautifully cool "Mia" is played by Uma Thurman. Their unforgettable dance scene takes place after deciding to enter a dance contest. The chemistry between the two was undeniable and a piece of iconic history was born.

5. Scent of a Woman ~ Al Pacino plays a grumpy and arrogant Kernel, who years after serving in the army was left blind and suicidal. During a forced but somewhat planned trip to New York City to accomplish a list of things he'd like to do before he dies, he directs his caretaker played by Chris O'Donnell to take him to an old favorite restaurant. There he sees an unsuspecting beautiful young woman sitting alone. They strike up a conversation where she tells him, she always wanted to dance the tango but didn't know how. Frank seizes his opportunity and asks her to join him on the floor for a proper lesson. The dance nearly steals the whole movie and showcases enormous passion and seductive charm.

6. Risky Business ~ Tome Cruise plays an average young teen named "Joel Goodson", left for a few days while his parents are out of town to fend by his own devices. To celebrate his new found independence, this famous dance scene combines Tom Cruise, underwear and an air guitar. What follows is a series of events that brings hookers, loosing the family furniture and his father's ferrari that's suddenly gone "missing".

7. Footloose ~ A city kid named "Ren" played by Kevin Bacon moves to a mid-western town that seems stuck in time. The towns people outlaw rock and roll music and dancing which leads Ren in deciding to take matters into his own hands. Becoming somewhat of a hero, Ren takes on their backward ways in order to help his fellow repressed peers. Although, the dancing is somewhat dated, the movie had a lot of heart and there's buzz that a remake is on the way.

8. Grease ~ Big man on campus, "Danny Zucko" (John Travolta) meets Aussie Innocent "Sandy" (Olivia Newton-John) on a summer fling right before school starts. Danny, assuming his "love 'em and leave 'em" strategy is carved in stone is shocked when his brief encounter shows up as the new student "Rydell High". His domain. Entertaining characters, vivid scenery, poodle skirts, leather jackets and unforgettable music that stands the test of time. Grease is the word. Grease was released in 1978 and became the most successful musicals of all time.

9. Singin' in the Rain ~ A film set in the 1920's that takes us on a historical journey of the transitioning period between the silent film era, and it's evolution into the world of movie talkies. Gene Kelly lights up the stage like no other and conveys through one of the most brilliant dance scenes of all time feelings of unadulterated joy. A back drop of pouring rain and a simple umbrella as his dancing partner and there is no wonder why "Singin' in the Rain is considered one of the best musicals of all time.

10. Saturday Night Fever ~ One of my all-time favorite movies, Saturday Night Fever Transcended limitations. John Travolta played Tony Manero, a Brooklyn teen who worked at a dead-end job in a Hardware store, but finds his ultimate happiness and true calling on the dance floor surrounded by adoring fans and the glare of disco lights.

When Tony falls in love with an older woman, with whom he feels a kindered spirit, her words shatter his fragile confidence by summarizing his life on a park bench "You live with your parents, you hang with your buddies and on Saturday night you burn it all off at 2001 Odyssey. You're a cliche. You're no where, going no place." The look on Tony's face is stunned emotion, and the sadness that follows is in the sense that he believes she may be right.

This film is memorable in so many ways. John Travolta's performance is vulnerable, yet sexy at the same time. The dance scenes are electrifying and spell-binding. Watching him get dressed in his room, amid posters of Al Pacino, Rocky and Farrah Fawcett perfectly sealed a piece of history. Saturday Night Fever is one of those iconic films that leaves a permanent print on dance and catapulted John Travolta into superstardom.


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