Winter break has finally arrived! When you're not busy hanging out with your family or finishing up Nutcracker performances, we know you'll make time for some good old-fashioned binge-watching. And Netflix and Hulu have you covered, with a wide array of dance films and shows to add to your queue. Here are our top picks.
The latest original musical to grace the big screen, The Greatest Showman follows the life and times of P.T. Barnum, and the events that inspired him to create the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus—often dubbed "The Greatest Show on Earth"—in the mid-1800s. Hugh Jackman stars as the entertainer, joined by celebs like Zendaya (who plays a graceful trapeze artist) and Zac Efron (who plays a circus performer and love interest to Zendaya's character). As Barnum assembles a dazzling spectacle of performers, the cast gets to participate in some epic dance numbers, choreographed by Ashley Wallen. Here, Wallen gives us the behind-the-scenes scoop on the film's moves.
Whether you're a musical theater buff or someone who lives for the Step Up franchise, you have to admit that dance movie scenes are often (all too) representative of real life. Here are five of our favorite scenes that, despite being silly and/or fantastical, somehow manage to reflect how we feel.
1. Did you just get cast in your dream role? Ace a test? Is "You Can't Stop the Beat," from Hairspray, running through your mind right now? It's an amazing anthem to sing to yourself when you feel unstoppable.
2. The warehouse dance scene in the original Footloose is legendary. This is how we deal with casting disappointments when nobody's watching.
3. "Good Morning," from Singin' in the Rain is so cheerful that it's easy to forget the song is sung by exhausted people who have just pulled an all-nighter. But anyone who says they don't do a victory dance when they come up with a great idea is lying.
4. Does the audition scene in Flashdance perfectly capture all of our audition anxiety? YES. But like any successful dancer, Alex shows exactly why she's unique—and it wins her a spot at a prestigious art school. Also, her high-cut leo and legwarmers are everything.
5. "We Go Together" from Grease perfectly encapsulates our feelings at the end of the school year or a summer intensive, or after a show closes: We're both relieved and sad that everything is over, but we know we've had an amazing bonding experience with our friends and colleagues.
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Not a huge college basketball fan? Yeahhhh...me neither. But I can't help feeling a little left out come March, when it seems like everyone in the world is busy keeping tabs on some elaborate March Madness bracket.
Enter Pacific Northwest Ballet, the company that's already proven it knows how to make the dance and sports worlds collide in delightful ways.
Yesterday, PNB launched a dance-friendly take on the bracket bonanza: "Dance Madness," a cute online survey that lets us nerds vote for our favorite dance movies. In today's preliminary round, for example, we can make flick picks in the "Golden Age" (think Singin' in the Rain and Funny Face) and "Millennium" (Step Up, Billy Elliot) categories. New prelim categories will be introduced daily until Tuesday, March 15. At that point the March Madness-style fun will truly begin, with the top contenders bracket-ing it out for the title of Best Dance Movie of All Time.
(Ahem: CENTER STAGE. If Center Stage doesn't win this thing—well:)
Click here to play!
It seems like only yesterday we were raving about the super-adorable Disney Channel original Teen Beach Movie. In reality, though, it’s been close to two whole years since the made-for-TV musical had our hearts singing with its summery dance-filled numbers. Choreographed by Christopher Scott (of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “LXD” fame), it featured “SYT” alums Kent Boyd and Mollee Gray and our gorgeous L.A. tour guide, Jessica Lee Keller.
Teen Beach 2! (Disney Channel/Francisco Roman)
It’s about time for another, right? Teen Beach 2 hits the small screen this Friday, and Scott is back at the dance-helm of this surf-inspired spectacular. Dance Spirit spoke with him about the sequel.
Dance Spirit: Do you have a favorite part of Teen Beach 2?
Christopher Scott: “Gotta Be Me.” It’s really a dancer’s number. It takes place in a gymnasium, and I was able to showcase everyone’s individual talents. I found out what everyone was capable of when making the first film, so this time around I was able to push the dancers to their ultimate limits.
Christopher Scott (center, pointing) choreographing "Gotta Be Me" for Teen Beach 2 (Disney Channel/Francisco Roman)
DS: Creating musical numbers for Disney seems pretty different from your other projects, like “The LXD.”
CS: It is, but the theater world is where I fell in love with dance. I’m actually a big musical theater nerd. Teen Beach has a lot of references to West Side Story, and that’s the first musical I performed in.
DS: Is your process different when you’re creating work for “SYT” compared to Teen Beach?
CS: No matter what I’m doing, there’s a story involved and a reason for the dance. When I’m working with the dancers on “SYT,” I don’t really take into account of what the dancers are or aren’t able to do—it’s a contest and they have to live up to expectations. But when I’m choreographing for something like Teen Beach, I’ll tailor the movement to the dancers I’m working with. There’s more collaboration.
DS: Do you have any advice for Dance Spirit readers who are hoping to work in Hollywood?
CS: Take advantage of all the new technology and platforms available today. You can easily shoot a movie on your iPhone in your living room—just go out and start making work. There’s no reason not to get started now.
Check out the trailer for Teen Beach 2 below, then set your DVRs for Friday, June 26 to catch the premiere!
Ahh. Visually striking dance movies—there's nothing like them. From the 3D, Academy-Award nominated Pina to the probing, New-York-City-Ballet-behind-the-scenes, Ballet 422, movies that take the awesomeness of dance to a new visual level are always the best ever. Well, dance-on-camera fans, rejoice! There's a new film coming out this month that promises to be extremely bold and beautiful.
Members of STREB Extreme Action performing "Sky Walk," as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
(photo by Esy Casey)
Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity comes out next week, after rave reviews at the SXSW Film Festival this spring. Following Streb and her STREB Extreme Action
dancers movers, the film highlights the choreographer's contributions to dance, art and the quest for human flight—though sometimes at the cost of her company members' safety. But as Streb (aka the Evel Knievel of dance) says in the film, "Anything too safe is not action." Plus, it's insanely exciting—talk about a serious adrenaline rush—to watch the dancers bounding from incredible heights, spinning in a human hamster wheel and rappelling from buildings. Take a look at the trailer below—we promise, you'll be hooked:
Dying to see Born to Fly? Click here for a list of showtimes.
One of the best parts about working for DanceMedia (the parent company of Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, Pointe, Dance Retailer News and Dance Spirit), is being surrounded by dancers all day, everyday. It's not uncommon to see a co-worker doing pliés at printer, foam rolling in their cubicle or trying the newest plank exercise in the hallway. It's like a dream come true, right?
Last week, Dance Magazine editor Khara Hanlon sent a simple mass email: "Tell me your all-time favorite dance scene in a movie." As you can imagine, the responses came flooding in. Here are a few of the favorites I just had to share:
1. Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt's audition for Dance TV in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
2. Jody Sawyer's dance in Center Stage
3. "I Think I'm Going to Like It Here" from the 1982 film version of Annie
4. "Everything Old Is New Again" in All That Jazz
5. "America" in West Side Story