A look at memorable Hollywood dance movies

Aug 31, 2014, 08:16 IST | Shakti Shetty

The lack of musical routines never stopped Hollywood from exploring dance in its varied form

Hollywood actors might have more convincing acting chops but can they dance like their Bollywood counterparts? Dancing is perceived as a skill set peculiar to roles where the character is expected to be dancing.

Step Up All In is the fifth installment in the Step Up series
Step Up All In is the fifth installment in the Step Up series 

That's not the case in Hindi film industry where dancing appears incumbent on the leading actors. However, despite this technical imbalance, Hollywood regularly comes up with movies dedicated to various dance forms.

With Step Up All In releasing last Friday, hitlist takes a tour of memorable dance movies in recent and not-so-recent memory...

Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky
Lowdown: What do you do when you attain perfection in your choice of field? That's one of the pertinent questions posed by this psychological thriller. Natalie Portman's insecure ballet dancer dreams of things that don't exist while foolishly overlooking the things she is gifted with. She pirouettes like a bird on the stage. But when the moment of ultimate triumph finally arrives, it's too late as the mental damage is already done.

Starsky & Hutch (2004)
Starsky & Hutch
Todd Phillips
Lowdown: In a state of hallucinatory high, Ben Stiller's eponymous character challenges somebody he doesn't even know in a disco. The two hit the floor and within minutes, it's obvious that Starsky is going to lose the bout. True to his nature, he doesn't take the defeat lightly. And end up entertaining the audience throughout.

Shall We Dance? (2004)
Shall We Dance?
Peter Chelsom
Lowdown: Richard Gere stars in this romantic comedy where his character is slowly drifting away from his family. He begins to find solace in ballroom dancing. He not only surprises himself but also his family when he ends up participating in a dance competition with Jennifer Lopez)who taught him how to sway.

Frances Ha (2012)
Frances Ha
Noah Baumbach
Lowdown: Greta Gerwig's eponymous character wants to make it big as a dancer. But it's quite apparent that the banality of her existence is too much to overlook. As a result, she's often seen dancing her heart out on the streets — much to the camera's delight — but not much in the studio where she gains employment.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook
David O Russell
Lowdown: The protagonists, portrayed by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, may or may not be in love with each other but they are certainly going to dance together in an upcoming competition. The catch here being Cooper's character, like Lawrence's, has loads of emotional problems.

Take Me Home Tonight (2011)
Take Me Home Tonigh
Michael Dowse
Lowdown: There's a slow night dance between the leading characters in this retro comedy but that doesn't interest us much. What's remarkable is the hero's best friend getting into a dance bout with an accomplished dancer. As a result, some never-seen-before dance moves happen.

Hairspray (2007)
Adam Shankman
Lowdown: One of the most critically and commercially successful musical films of the last decade is an adaptation. It features some really interesting characters who appear destined to never dance on the big stage. Turns out they can after all and that's exactly what they do by overcoming the obstacles in their way.

Step Up (2006)
Step Up
Anne Fletcher
Lowdown: Whoever has seen this uplifting film would agree on two things. One, Channing Tatum dances better when he's dancing solo on hip-hop tracks. Second, the chemistry between him and Jenna Dewan — whom Tatum is married to — is barely there. Yet, the film is a healthy mix of rap music and pure ballet.

Underground (1995)
Director: Emir Kusturica
Lowdown: Although it's a thorough World War II film, there's a beautiful scene by the end when the protagonists give into their emotions. They are in love with each other and present in their beloved city. The only problem is it's been cruelly bombarded. However, that doesn't stop them from dancing like it was peace.

Chicago (2002)
Rob Marshall
Lowdown: It's 1920s and jazz is in the air. And the city is, as one can guess, Chicago. But it's not just the music and the dancing showgirls on display. There's a lot more happening underneath the surface. It begins with a big C as the city itself: crime. However, up on the stage, Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones — in make-up and lacy attires — whirl to the catchy beat.

Save The Last Dance (2001)
Save The Last Dance
Thomas Carter
Lowdown: To put it bluntly, Julia Stiles's character is white and comes with a background in ballet while Sean Patrick Thomas has grown up grooving to rap music. They befriend each other only to fall in love while dancing. The dance sequence during which she becomes comfortable with him is the turning point of the story.

Billy Elliot (2000)
Billy Elliot
Stephen Daldry
Lowdown: His father wants him to pick up a 'manly' sport like boxing whereas Jamie Bell decides to remain true to his not-so-manly first love. No, not the girl because of whom he stumbles upon ballet, but ballet itself. When his old man comes to know about his secret tryst with dancing, the young boy confronts him by breaking into a random dance routine.

Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Strictly Ballroom
Baz Luhrmann
Lowdown: There's a reason why this Australian filmmaker is so taken with the naach-gaana of Bollywood. His movies tend to explore the musical side. And even though Moulin Rouge! (2001) highlighted Nicole Kidman's twirling skills, Strictly Ballroom is that one Aussie film which is wonderfully (and thankfully) neck-deep in dance.

Tap (1989)
Nick Castle
Lowdown: Gregory Hines is a talented tap dancer but owing to misconduct faces time in prison. Once he gets out, he has to decide whether he wants to continue with the life of crime or work on his passion for dancing. By the end of the film, his ladylove plays a key role in helping him step out of his dilemma.

Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Dancing
Emile Ardolino
Lowdown: It's almost impossible to come up with a better dance film than this. Much of the credit goes to the chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. So much so that Swayze wouldn't let a body double perform his moves and as a consequence, spent days nursing injuries.

Footloose (1984)
Herbert Ross
Lowdown: Rebellious is the word to describe this musical drama that has the young Kevin Bacon at his promising best. He is a fan of rock n' roll and loves to dance while his community can't accept "anti-Christian" music. In the process, his character reminds us that dancing has the potential to bring us closer to peace.

Grease (1978)
Randal Kleiser
Lowdown: One critic called it an ode to young love that never gets old — and appropriately so. After all, it's been more than 35 years since the film — which itself was based on 1950s America — released and even today, the accompanying music and the carefree dance steps performed by John Travolta are fresh as ever.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Saturday Night Fever
John Badham
Lowdown: If it weren't for his enthusiastic work in this dance venture, John Travolta wouldn't have received the script of Grease. The bourgeoning disco culture among the youth was best captured by the musical drama while Travolta's upbeat character showed some sleek moves on the floor.

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