These shoes are the kind that are found on every dance film which I have lately been filling my spare ‘me time’ with. I decided one night last week to watch Step Up and the craze went on from there. Dance films are great if you love dancing (for the obvious reasons), want to watch a simple – and sometimes cheesy – storyline, and sometimes they make me really want to take up dancing (which I always got bored of as a kid after a few classes). Now, I tend to watch films about dance and see the same storyline emerge through the screen again and again: dancer with no official training wants to get into dance school, combines hip hop and ballet to do so. Below are a few which I have either watched in the past week, or plan on doing so very soon.
Flashdance was one of the first, or the first, major dance storylines in motion picture. It follows the story of a young woman, Alex (Jennifer Beals), who dreams of going to dance school. She has two jobs: by day, she is a mechanic, by night, she is a dancer. It is the typical dance story, but this was the first time it was done. Alex trains herself in her living room to popular 80s music; Maniac comes to mind. She also finds love on her journey to the audition, and she smashes the audition with an amazing dance routine that has been copied again and again in music videos by singers such as Jennifer Lopez and Geri Halliwell. All in all, a great film with a protagonist that is not the typical prima ballerina; something which has been copied through the years.
Save The Last Dance 2001
Julia Stiles plays the lead of a dancer who loses her mother on the day of her audition for Julliard. After that, she moves in with her father and to a new school whose white population is next to none. Sara (Stiles) tries to forget her passion for dance and wants to live her life as normal as possible, until she meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) who ignites her passion for dance again, and persuades her to audition for Julliard for the second time. Ballet is then combined with hiphop again for the audition. A good film that tackles the issues of mixed race relationships as well as telling the story of dance.
Honey is not the typical dance movie where the protagonist has a goal of successfully getting into a dance school. Honey (Jessica Alba) wants to become a professional dancer for singers. She does this and realises that it is something that she does not want anymore. Instead, she wants to build a dance school for kids who have been brought up in the bad side of New York, a place where they can feel safe and dance whenever they want. A charity show is created. She gets the money and becomes a famous choreographer. This story has heart and a love of dance provided by young people which is something that an audience could admire. Warning: Do not watch every single night for about two weeks; you will end up hating the film for a few years.
Step Up 2006
The first Step Up was a fantastic movie with a spin on the typical dance storyline. Yes, the female protagonist Nora (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) has to get into a dance company via an audition which is her final piece of dance from school, but then you throw Tyler Gage into the mix. Tyler (Channing Tatum) has to do community service in the school due to him and his friends breaking and entering into the Maryland School of Arts. He helps Nora after her partner breaks his leg. The protagonists live happily ever after at the end: Nora gets into the dance company, and Tyler gets a scholarship and transfers to the performing arts school. Nevertheless, the combination of the hip hop world and ballet world illustrates gang life and how ruthless some people can be through the murder of a young friend. As a result, this film shows both sides of the popular dances and the trials and tribulations that tag along with it. The following films of Step Up show basically the same storyline. There has now been three, and there is another one lined up for 2012. Sometimes when films are good, they become overrated, and more and more of the same thing comes out. The producers need to think of some originality.
Take the Lead 2006
Another dance film of 2006 which Jenna Dewan-Tatum stars alongside many other young actors and Antonio Banderas. Based on the true story, Pierre Dulaine (Banderas) is a ballroom dance teacher who has a very high standard dance school for the upper middle class. He also goes into a high school for the not so rich in order to help students from detention seek a better life through dance. These students know how to dance, but not ballroom which is something that we haven’t seen much in dance cinema: the art of ballroom. The relationship between the students and Antonio Banderas is fantastic, and they truly learn a lot from each other. They learn to respect one another also. This film shows the greatness of equality between young people, especially those who have had to overcome some kind of trauma in their lives, such as the death of a young one.
Black Swan 2010
Natalie Portman is an amazing actress, and proves this in Black Swan. This has got to be one of her most strenuous roles in terms of the physicality of the role as well as the mentality. Nina (Portman) is the perfect prima ballerina who wants to land the role of the swan in The Swan Lake. But, to do this, Nina must lose some of her ‘goody-two-shoes’ act and become a little rebellious in her actions. She starts to do this, but also loses her mind and becomes obsessed with the role of the swan. The ending of this film is phenomenal, and the acting is spectacular. This is definitely not the typical dance film, which is a breath of fresh air needed in the world of dance in film.
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