Let me tell you what I love about dance movies, but first let me give you an insight of my life on weekends. Usually, if I haven’t either baby-sat all evening or watched somebody else’s cats/things/plants, I go to a coffee shop and I read for classes. Lately, the prevalent subjects I’m covering are issues related to torture and violence within the context of war, for my Public Policy class. Different accounts of human rights, different accounts of what life is, different accounts of what being a human is, and ontological arguments about protection of life etc.
In my feminist philosophy class, I’m covering issues related to pornography and the rights of sex workers, but also, gender issues, violence and sexual harassment cases, obscenity law, degradation issues etc.
If I have some free time in the evening, I attend my Alanon meeting at a church. Usually, on Saturdays, somebody always shares how their alcoholic mother/ husband, friend/ son, has relapsed again, or is calling them from a pay phone in jail. If I have even more free time after my meeting, I keep reading about violence and torture in the context of war, or about third world prostitution.
So, the thing is, once I get to a stopping point, it’s time for a movie. I recently discovered Eastern-European films, and the work of Krzysztof Kieślowski, thanks to a friend and professor of mine who is from Pakistan. And this sort of sounds classy when I write it down. But, you know, the last thing I want to do at this point of the night, is to watch a movie where people either starve to death, a child falls inside a frozen lake, peasants are run over by horses, or somebody dies and the only witness is, not God, but the community (there is no God in these movies, and even science and rationality are dogmatic.) So this brings me back to my dance movies.
I love Dance movies. This is my favorite dance movie formula:
A girl used to dance, but something “tragic” happens in her life, so she stops dancing. She then moves to a city, and meets some guy who believes in her. The girl then begins to get her self esteem back, and practices her dance moves in the basement. She applies to some really good dance school in NYC, but something always happens before the audition, and the girl gives up her dream again. Surprisingly, five minutes before the movies ends, the guy convinces the girl to go after her dream, so the girl runs to the audition, and is late for it. There is always a mean looking judge sitting at the audition table who says to her “You are late, and you cannot audition.” But the girl, who has self esteem now, stands up for herself, takes off her baggy clothes as the music plays, and dances so well that she gets accepted to her dream school. And the guy is always at the audition somehow and stands in awe at the fact that his girlfriend can dance, and cheers for her.
This is my second favorite formula:
A rebellious guy moves in to a small conservative town. He meets the minister’s daughter and falls in love with her. He wants to teach her how to dance rock n’ roll, but her dad doesn’t approve of him. Everybody gives the guy mean looks, and they treat him as an outcast. So the guy gets angry, and goes into a warehouse and dances his anger away. The girl is at the warehouse and witnesses how good of a dancer he is, and so they fall for each other and dance the night away.
Other things I enjoy about these movies:
1) Every character is so amazingly one dimensional, it is almost suspicious. The bad guys are inexplicably evil, the mean judges are plain unfair, the dancers are always really nice and hard workers; they are also always good looking and fit. The heterosexual relationships on those movies are always really cliché, and generic, and simple, in a good way. Basically, every character is predictable, and when I’m looking for escapism movies, I like predictable characters.
2) Looking out for the extras! Actors do not know how to dance, so every time there is a really good ballet jump, or a really good choreography, they take a distant shot and never focus on the person’s face, to let the real dancer do his/her job. It is usually fun to look out for the scenes where the actor suddenly looks like a real, lean, ballet dancer.
3) The awesome eighties or nineties music.
4)The awesome dance moves that I can later try to, unsuccessfully, copy in the privacy of my own living room.