With Flesh and Bone premiering this weekend on Starz, it feels like the perfect time to offer up my dance movie list. Dance has always been my first love–even before I caught the acting bug I wanted to be on stage dancing, but I started formal training way too late to go the career route. I think this may have had something to do with my parents not believing it was important to me, and constantly referencing a statement I made at the Nutcracker as a child, “It was okay except for the dancing.” (Kids say the darndest things!)
There are so many memorable musicals with amazing dance sequences (Moulin Rouge, pretty much any of the old MGM musicals, etc.), but I’m talking “strictly” movies about dance. My favorites are the ones that still feel as fresh today as they did a decade or two (ok, three) ago. In no particular order…
Strictly Ballroom (1992)
My parents dragged me to see this at the theater and I think I gave them a major eye-roll at the suggestion. (You know that age where anything your parents like has to be the OPPOSITE of cool?) This was before anyone in the States knew the genius of Baz Luhrmann, and I was completely blown away by the dancing, sparkly costumes, and move-in-your-seat music. Val & Rumer did one of the iconic dances from this film on the last season of Dancing With the Stars and it was fantastic—they were the perfect couple to capture the magic of this movie. It’s a sweet underdog story, but it’s also funny and immensely quotable: “I have to help Wayne with his bogo pogo.” Try to fight the urge to find a rooftop to dance on to “Time After Time”.
Step Up (2006)
There have been 5 movies in this series (so far), and while each of them has amazing choreography, you can’t beat the sheer star power of the original with Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum. They have amazing chemistry (clearly, since they made it official after this), the soundtrack is great, and Anne Fletcher grounds it with a realistic portrayal of what dance means to kids who don’t have the opportunities for formal training. (She was way ahead of the curve, since the concept of “stage vs. street” pretty much rules So You Think You Can Dance now.) The story lacks a lot, but the fun is in watching Channing & Jenna dance. And did you catch Jenna’s, “You are too many things!”?? That brings me to my all-time favorite…
Center Stage (2000)
Without question, this is my overall favorite dance movie. The soundtrack is a bit dated (Jamiroquai, anyone?), but the dance scenes are too fun, especially the showcase at the end. Admit it, you wanted that red outfit. This one is such a guilty pleasure because it truly is for dance fanatics…I mean, who else cares about some teens training at the American Ballet Academy? Oh, but it feels so good. You’ll be in your leg warmers, pointing your toes in no time!
Dirty Dancing (1987)
There’s a reason this is such a special film to so many people, even non-dancers. Yes, the dancing is fantastic and every girl wants to pull off that lift in a pretty pink gown (Ryan Gosling even preyed on this fantasy in Crazy Stupid Love), but this is really all about summer love, youth, and losing your innocence. I’m not sure who I wanted to be more–Baby or Penny with those long legs! It’s probably the best plot of all the films I’ve listed–it just feels timeless, despite being an 80’s movie about the 60’s. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights had some steamy moments, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the original.
Yes, this is straight up 80’s at its best—the music, the clothes, the hair—but it is so infectious! The 2011 remake with Julianne Hough had some great dancing and updates to the music, but the fact that it was almost line for line the original, just shows how unnecessary a remake was. Julianne can dance like nobody’s business, and she’s probably one of my favorite professional dancers, but the original has a beloved cast and endless charm that can’t be matched.
Opening this weekend:
Spectre PG-13 (Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz) See previous Bond post. This is my pick of the weekend.
The Peanuts Movie G
Spotlight R (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton) Tells the true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation of the Catholic Church. Getting buzz for Best Director category.
Brooklyn PG-13 (Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson) 1950’s…Irish immigrant…NYC.
Trumbo R (Bryan Cranston, Alan Tudyk) 1940’s…blacklist…Hollywood.
Miss You Already PG-13 (Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette) Grab your BFF for this one.