Dance movies are great to watch, especially on holidays. You can help your dance education by watching some old and new dance movies in your holiday break, as mentioned in our last blog https://www.focusondance.com.au/holidays-are-here/ .
I watched dance movies all the time as a child. Every Saturday and Sunday, they played musicals on tv. I loved to watch them. They inspired me and made me want to dance. They were bright and colourful (even if they were in black and white- yes black and white people, it use to be a thing). The stories weren’t necessarily groundbreaking, but they were a great vehicle for the singing and dancing. After all, that was the main purpose of the movie.
These old movies especially were also very kid friendly. There was no language and the most explicit act was a very award looking (not so passionate really) long, lingering kiss. This was usually at the end of the movie and very often was covered by a large fan, hat or some other prop.
I do remember one of the movies I loved was a musical called “Gypsy”. It was based on the story of the burlesque entertainer, Gypsy Rose Leigh. Despite the subject, it was very tame and tasteful. As a young dance student, I loved the theatre setting of the movie and the music. Attending quite a few singing eisteddfods , “Let me Entertain You” from this musical, was a standard in the musical theatre section. I don’t know how many Parents knew where it came from.
I recently attended a workshop run by Jeep Management (https://jeepmanagement.com) where Kieron Kulik spoke to the kids about how important it is to watch dance. He said he spent every weekend watching dance movies. From these movies, you can get a sense of dance history. It is important to know the history of your art form, just as much as the technique you learn in class.
Talent agents, Kieron and Jeep Management Principal, PJ Clarke conduct many dance auditions. They said that it is an advantage to know who historical figures in dance where, such as Fosse. You will have seen his choreography in movies such as West Side Story. In audition you will have a better idea of what they want when they say they are doing a Fosse piece.
You can use characters you see in these movies to help you as well. Certain characters have different styles. You can use these to inspire you in improvisations. There are a whole new range of steps you may find, that will suit different styles of music.
So what movies should you be watching these holidays? The classics such as, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, An American in Paris, Funny Face are a must. Footloose, Flashdance and Fame are also icons, make sure your Parents say it is ok to watch them. Any movie with Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire (or both together) is great. Some of my favorites are Easter Parade, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story.
Brigadoon is one of my all time favorites. It is a movie with Gene Kelly. Though it is old fashioned, it is lovely. The story is in a mystical place called Brigadoon. One of the characters is a girl who can not speak, but communicates through dance.
If you like tap, you will love White Nights. This movie stars Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Who are they you ask? Watch you will find out. Baryshnikov was a ballet dancer and is amazing. Hines was a dancer, actor, singer and choreographer. This movie combines tap and ballet, a little different and old, but great to watch.
A Chorus Line, is a movie about auditioning for a chorus line in a show. It is maybe not for younger students, but has that iconic number “One” that all dancers should know. Chicago is an upbeat movie, with lots of great numbers. This is another that isn’t for the younger students. It is based on the main character being tried for Murder. A light-hearted look at era of music and dance that every dance should know. The time of the Charleston and Prohibition.
As a teeanager, I read and then saw the story of a young ballerina in “The Turning Point”. It follows her struggles as she joins a ballet company and all that involves. Centre Stage has a similar story line. Once again, not recommended for young dancers.
The more modern musicals, most dancers would have seen, Hairspray, High School Musical (all of them) and the one and only “The Greatest Showman”. These are fun and very good for young dancers to watch.
A famous movie that seems to have inspired many young kids to go to ballet lessons, is “The Red Shoes”. It is about a girl and a pair of red ballet shoes that are magical. It is from 1948, but a movie that all dancers should see.
There are so many great musicals to inspire you. You will have a whole new knowledge of dance and its history. As well as an appreciation of how dance has developed. Mostly, I hope you love dance even more. Enjoy your holiday and watch lots of dance. Remember to follow the tips in the last blog https://www.focusondance.com.au/holidays-are-here/.
Keep on Dancing