This week’s Film Friday is all about DANCE! I thought this up the other weekend when Step Up 2 was on TV. Although Step Up 2 hasn’t made my top 10, it did get me thinking of my all time favourite dance movies.
I know dance movies aren’t for everyone but as a dance lover myself, I adore (some of) them. For me, they’re feel good films, and always have me dancing round my living room.
I have a bold statement for you guys, but I think there is a dance film out there for everyone to enjoy. Trust me on this, as one of them could be below. These aren’t in any particular order, that would be far too hard.
Centre Stage – 2000
For all us Ballet school dreamers out there, this is our movie. Growing up I did ballet until I was 18. In my teens I never appreciated the art of it, or what it was doing for my body. Now, 10 years on from it, I miss it so much and appreciated it so much more. Queue, Centre Stage & me joining in with the films dance class scenes in my living room. The final dance number to a mash up of pop culture songs by Jamiriqui & Michael Jackson blew me away when I first saw it. This movie introduced me to Zoe Saldana, before she did Crossroads with Britney (what a film). It highlights issues men & women at ballet schools or any school go through, it shows challenges that life throws at you, and is definitely the more light hearted Black Swan of the ballet film world.
Step Up – 2006
The noughties were a good era for cheesy dance films. Cheesy as in they provide us with a bit of drama, a fued, life in turmoil situation, but somehow dance rescues them. I buy in to this kind of story line so much, partly because I am a romantic at heart and I love the thought of dance making people’s lives brighter. This is basically Step Up. Channing Tatum, the guy who had every girl falling for him after this film, plays a teenager who commits vandalism at a very expensive arts school. He has to carry out community service there and in turn becomes the knight in shining armour to a girl who loses her dance partner to injury. He turns his life around through dance and meeting her. This dance film is also a love story on and off the screen. Tatum’s on screen love interest became his real life girlfriend and now wife after meeting on this film. Cute!
Save The Last Dance – 2001
For me, this has to be one of my favourites. I went to the cinema 3 times to watch this, I couldn’t get enough of it. I was completely in love with the guy who plays Derek, Kerry Washington made my life and I’ve followed her career since, plus the soundtrack was insane. I’m still bopping around to the moves Derek teaches Sara. The movie shows how a ballet trained white girl has to move to live with her estranged dad in Chicago, and enrolls at a school located in a predominantly black neighbourhood. Her love interest is Derek, a black guy, who has had runnings with the police in the past but is now focusing on becoming a doctor. Their attraction for one another transcends the colour of their skin, however not for everyone. Not only is this a dance film, it highlighted social issues between mixed race couples, albeit in a lighthearted-dance saves the day-stereotypical-kind of way. To me though, this movie just fills me with happiness and nostalgia of growing up, loving R&B music and having to buy 2 copies of this on video, one for my house and one for my Nan’s. No joke.
Take The Lead – 2006
This is a lesser known dance film, as unfortunately it was released the same year as Step Up, and I think we all know that was the biggest chick flick/dance film of 2006. The leading lady in Step Up, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, also stars in this. Antonio Banderas plays a professional ballroom dance teacher who witnesses students from a certain school about to vandalise a car, which he finds out belongs to the principal of that school. After visiting the school to talk to the principal, he ends up volunteering himself to supervise the students who are in detention. His outlook is that Ballroom dancing will fill them with discipline, respect and channel their energy in to something positive. The film sees the students eventually coming round to the idea and incorporating their love of hip hop dancing with classical moves. Again, a love story, troubled teens and a lovely ending make this film a one to watch if you’ve not seen it before.
Billy Elliott – 2000
For starters, if you haven’t seen Billy Elliott, then where have you been? This British dance film is without a doubt one of the most cult like & best films ever made. It highlights working conditions of the North East miners, culture of the time with the ruling Tory government, and one boys struggle with learning he’s actually got a chance to change his life, however, it’d through Ballet, not Boxing. This dance movie has been made in to one of the best selling stage musicals ever, and if you get the chance to see it, then do, it’s incredible. This is one of those films that I meant when I said I believe there is a dance film for everyone. My husband and dad, who aren’t fussed on dance films (to put it mildly), love this film. In fact, it is one of my dads favourites & he even made reference to it in his speech on my wedding day. It’ll have you laughing and crying, so please, if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?
Strictly Ballroom – 1992
This Australian based, Baz Luhrmann movie is the most glitzy of all. It has glitz, sparkle, fake tan and sequins everywhere. Don’t quote me on this, but because of that, it must be the inspiration behind the “Strictly” in “Strictly Come Dancing”. It is one of the first dance films I fell in love with, and I’ve started to realise this is largely because of the sound tracks. I can’t connect with a dance film if I don’t like the music, and this film has some classic tunes in there. The lead guy is a professional ballroom champion that now wants to jazz up his routines a bit with new contemporary steps, but, this is seen as outrage in the ballroom world. Shock horror I know, but watch it, you’ll soon be swept up in the drama. He meets a clumsy girl who is training to dance and has nothing to lose if she becomes his new partner. They work together on creating a show dance that mixes all styles of Ballroom dancing and we are treated to this number at the end of the film. This scene still gives me goosebumps and I am waiting for the day someone recreates it on Strictly as it would make my life.
Honey – 2003
If I mention Honey, what’s the one thing you think of? The song at the end? Yes, me too. The song in question, “I Believe”, was one of the most popular songs of 2003. Every dance school was dancing to it, every girl was playing it on their phones, every school choir was singing it. The film became huge. Jessica Alba plays a hip hop dance teacher, turned music video choreographer, that realises she only wants to teach dance to those who need a productive outlet. Her dream is to open her own dance studio for under privileged kids to come and learn a skill and discipline. I remember coming out of the cinema thinking who knew Jessica Alba could dance like that. This film, although focussing on stereotypical lovers of hip hop music, portrays how easily it is for some kids to lose their way, it encourages you to follow dreams, and is probably one of the most heart warming but cheesy films on my list.
Burlesque – 2010
This is the most recent film on my list and the only burlesque dance movie on my list. It’s the only burlesque themed dance film I’ve seen (I’m counting Moulin Rouge as a musical). I love this film as it is a refreshing change from ballet, hip hop and ballroom based dance movies. It stars Christina Aguilera, Cher, Cam Gigandet, and Stanley Tucci, already the cast grabbed my attention. Aguilera plays a small town girl who moves to LA to pursue a career in music. She stumbles upon the burlesque club and instantly falls in love with it. After landing any old job she can in there in the hope of catching Cher’s eye (the owner of the club), she repeatedly begs for an audition as a dancer. Finally Aguilera’s character gets a spot on stage, and one night due to a technical fault the music cuts out and the dancers are stranded on stage, until Aguilera pipes up and sings the rest of the song. This catapults her into centre stage of every routine, saves the club from dwindling numbers, and achieves her musical dream. Plus, Cam Gigandet is really hot in this film!
Footlose – 1984
From the newest film on my list to the oldest film on my list. I had to include this classic dance movie, otherwise what list would this be without it. Kevin Bacon steals our dancing hearts in this 80’s movie with another one of style of dance for my list, Line Dancing. Only Kevin Bacon could make line dancing look cool as hell to the masses. This is another film, like Billy Elliott, and the next one on my list, that has been made in to a best selling stage musical. Kevin’s character moves from city life to country life and is finding it really hard to adjust. He loves his music and can’t understand why no one in the town is allowed to enjoy it. We learn it’s due to a horrible accident a group of teenagers were killed in on the way to a dance. The Mayor associates music and dancing with this tragedy, as his son was killed in the accident. Bacon’s character stands up against the strict town system and fights for the kids rights to have a good ol’ boogie. Queue an epic school dance last number.
Dirty Dancing – 1987
Ladies & Gents, we have reached the finale, I hope you have enjoyed each film up till now, and I am leaving you all with one epic finale. One of my favourite films of all time, dance movie or not, Dirty Dancing. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are a total dream in this. I could watch this movie over and over again and never get sick of it. This film captured me with the soundtrack, back to this and my love of music. It’s an absolute belter of a soundtrack. Although filmed in the 80’s, it’s set in the summer of 1963 at a holiday camp, where Swayze is the lead dancer on the entertainment crew. Having to dance conservatively for the paying guests night after night, the dancers set up their own club house where they’re free to dance however they like, after hours. Baby (Grey), a non-worldly girl, finds herself falling for Johnny (Swayze) and becoming a part of his Dirty Dancing world. I would be genuinely shocked if you told me you hadn’t seen this movie. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll know doubt know the final song “Time Of My Life” and know all about the famous lift. But trust me when I say this film is so much more than those 2 things, and Time Of My Life, for me, isn’t even the best song on the soundtrack. Do yourselves a favour this weekend, if you haven’t seen this film yet, then watch it. I promise you’ll love it.
I’ll now take a bow, and see you next week for Film Friday.
*all images used are from google search, movie IMDB page. Cover image via Pinterest, saved from Google Brazil Pink Popcorn Search.