Top Ten: Movie Dance Scenes

It’s been a while since I did a Top Ten, it’s not easy to keep coming up with ideas especially when you are a bear of little brain. I’m currently watching Strictly Come Dancing on catch-up and disagreeing completely with the judges (come on – Kellie and Kevin were an absolute mess) and then it hit me. Dancing. I look a good dance scene, be it in a musical or otherwise so here’s a run-down of ten great dance scenes – as always, it’s only in films that I’ve seen so no complaints if your favourite isn’t in here.

1. Ballroom – Beauty And The Beast

A bit of a cheat as it’s not actually dancing but an animation, but this is such a beautiful scene that I had to include it on the list. Beauty and Beast was revelatory about how technology was developing and the dance scene was a major factor in the film’s Oscar nomination for best picture.

2. Cell Block Tango – Chicago

The six merry murderesses get their chance to shine as they retell their stories. I love the slow, sensual solo stories coupled with the quick and sharp group tango. I considered the final scene – Nowadays – from Chicago, but always feel a little uncomfortable watching that as Renee Zellweger seems to be working so hard in comparison to Catherine Zeta-Jones.

3. Final Dance – Dirty Dancing

I don’t know one woman my age for whom this scene isn’t a major part of their teenage years. From the “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” line right through to the end, it’s a triumph. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are sublime and I imagine lots of living rooms across the country repeated the scene in my house where we would push back the coffee table and badly try to recreate the dance.

4. Final Dance – Footloose

After years of dancing being banned by the over-zealous pastor, the young people of Bomont are finally allowed to have a school dance and they (as the song goes) cut loose. It’s a early 80s nightmare of polyester and body-popping but I love it. I always wonder though who came up with the perfect choreography for those 30 year-old students…

5. You Can’t Stop The Beat – Hairspray

This is a joyous end to a fun musical update of John Walter’s tale of race relations in 1960s Baltimore. John Travolta is great fun as Edna Turnblad, shaking that fat suit brilliantly. It brings together all of the storylines and has everyone on their feet, including Christopher Walken. It’s a delight and bears repeated viewings.

6. Jack Rabbit Slim’s – Pulp Fiction

Another John Travolta performance – this is the iconic scene from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction where Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace enter the twist contest. It’s a mystery how two people as stoned as Vincent and Mia are able to dance rather than just eat a multi-bag of Wotsits, but they managed it magnificently.

7. Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Even before I had ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show I knew how to do the Time Warp. After all, it’s just a jump to the left… Innocents Brad and Janet are introduced to the strange convention at Frank-N-Furter’s home and the odd participants (including both Blofeld and Biggins), who dance the Time Warp.

8. Barn Raising – Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

I’m a huge fan of the classic musicals of the 50s and 60s and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of my favourites. The rough and ready Pontipee brothers have amazing dance sequences and it’s no surprise that three of the four actors were professional dancers, including Jacques d’Ambrose, a principal dancer from the New York City Ballet. The barn-raising scene is simply outstanding and one of the greatest moments from any musical.

9. Singin’ in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain

Of course there had to be a Gene Kelly sequence in this list – his dancing and choreography were the best ever committed to film (yes, I’m saying, better than Astaire). Singin’ in the Rain remains my favourite musical of all time and there were a number of scenes I could have chosen, I wavered for a while on Good Morning but finally settled on this iconic solo performance.

10. Jai Ho – Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog was billed as a feel-good comedy, but it’s actually a fairly tragic story of poverty, abuse, violence, and child prostitution. It does however have the perfect uplifting ending with Jamal and Latika finding love and expressing that love in a magnificent Bollywood dance scene at Mumbai railways station. Ignore the darker aspects of the film and just wallow in the great dancing.

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