Now, I'm no girly girl, I don’t go weak at the knees at the site of Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson...or whichever hunk people are lusting after these days. But when it comes to my films, I do like a good old rom-com and I especially love dance movies; perhaps it’s because I'm the least elegant person you’d ever find on the dance floor, perhaps it’s because I had secret wishes to be a dancer, or perhaps it’s the only outlet I have for the small girly part of me...who knows...but there really is nothing better than watching chemistry fizz between the leads of a dance movie, soaring as the film ultimately builds up to that final dance routine. Or to see the underdog or outcast be accepted in a world they wouldn't belong to if it wasn't for dance.
So with this playlist I've put together my favourite songs from my favourite scenes of my favourite dance movies of all time. Now some aren't what you’ll be expecting, I haven’t always gone for the obvious, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised non-the-less and I think you’ll understand my choices in the end!
Flashdance // Michael Sembello - 'Maniac'
OK so Geri Halliwell tried to rip off Flashdance. J-Lo even had a pop at it too. Screw them I say, because nothing will ever touch the original and a smokin' Jennifer Beals. So why did I pick 'Maniac' when I could have gone for the obvious 'What A Feeling' or the tantalising water chair scene with Shandi Sinnamon's 'He's a Dream'? Well quite simply because the song pretty much sums up the passion and dedication of Alex, and of course the scene shows the power and skills of Jennifer who played her. And come on; don’t tell me you haven't ever danced around a room like this, with your hair all wet and wild...no...Just me... OK pretend I didn't say that!
Dirty Dancing // Mickey & Sylvia - 'Love Is Strange'
OK again so why this song and this scene, there are obvious choices yes, but for me this scene was the turning point for Baby, from girl to woman, she dominated Johnny, she playfully mocked him and the chemistry was intense. And it was the truth...this scene wasn't intended for the film, it was Patrick and Jennifer messing around before shooting, this is genuine chemistry between one of the greatest lead connections ever...spaghetti arms!!!
Footloose // Deniece Williams - 'Hear It For The Boy'
WHAT? Yeh I can hear you protesting in disbelief...how could I not pick the warehouse scene? Well I tell you it was hard, so hard....whilst I love that scene, what's not to love about Kevin Bacon getting sweaty in a vest, ultimately though this playlist is about the music first and for me the accompanying track to that scene never did it for me ('Never' by Moving Pictures). For me, my favourite track is Deniece Williams' 'Hear It For The Boy'. Plus who doesn't love a good old movie montage, and this is one of the finest offerings from the 80's! Oh and how could I not pay tribute to the late, great Chris Penn.
Saturday Night Fever // Bee Gees - 'You Should Be Dancing'
This film is all about Travolta and all about disco. He totally owns the floor and it has to be all about him and his moves...could you imagine if we all behaved like this in clubs today...some kid with his pants around his butt pulling off a solo as slick as this to some Will.I.Am guff?! It just wouldn't happen...but that’s what makes Saturday Night Fever so amazing, it captured the era, the moment, it was disco and it was great and now it lives on.
Grease // Sha-Na-Na - 'Born To Hand Jive'
Possibly the greatest musical ever, it’s up there isn't it...and this scene and song has always been my favourite. Not only does the scene really tell us a lot about each of the characters; from Rizzo's slutiness to Kenickie's hothead, via the calamity of Doody and Putzie, even the teachers get involved in this one. But at the crux of it, yet again, is Travolta, as Johnny he was so immersed in the music that regardless of partner he just felt the rhythm!
Moulin Rouge // Various - 'El Tango De Roxanne'
This scene sums up what Moulin Rouge is ultimately about; passion, lust and, well, prostitution. The way Baz Lurham shot this, with quick cuts from actor to actor mirrors the passion, aggression and urgency of the Tango and who’d have thought you could make a Tango from The Police's 'Roxanne'; it’s just superb and so fitting. And the vocal battle between Christian and the Narcoleptic Argentinian only serves to intensify the passion of not only the dance but Christian's desire for Satine.
Strictly Ballroom // Doris Day - 'Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps'
It’s been a while since I've seen Strictly Ballroom, because let’s face it...its pretty naff...but this scene has always stuck in my mind. It was so touching and beautifully captured, in particular their shadows dancing on the curtain. The connection between Scott and Fran, however inconceivable it may have been, was so tender and the choice of Doris Day's 'Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps' was perfect.
Chicago // Catherine Zeta-Jones - 'All That Jazz'
Whatever you think of Catherine Zeta-Jones, she totally owns this scene and totally owns this song! As Velma, she’d just shot her sister and husband so what else do you do but give a performance like this! Mixed with shots of Roxie Hart and her desire for another life and to be on the stage herself, it portrays the start of her obsession and betrayal and builds into the ultimate climax. Oh and that look Velma gives as the police spots her...bang!
Save The Last Dance // Donell Jones - 'You Know What’s Up'
OK, so grieving white ballerina moves to a rough area and meets cocky black hip-hop dancer. He teaches her his ways and how to blend in and turns her dancing around. She performs a fusion piece to get into her dance school. It really wasn't anything ground-breaking and Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas made an awful couple with no connection...but you can’t help but watch this film! And this scene and song has always been my favourite, so corny!
Fame // Irene Care - 'Fame (Remember My Name)'
I don't know about you and your friends but me and all mine often spill out onto the streets dancing around to the tunes blaring from taxis...but hang on wait...if you're dance type people then you do because this scene from Fame is the original flash mob!! The proud father showcasing his sons musical creations and the kids from Fame strutting their stuff in appreciation... doesn't get much better than this, and come on I had to give Irene Cara some credit on this list after missing out on the Flashdance spot!
Burlesque // Christina Aguilera - 'Show Me How You Burlesque'
So I'm still totally undecided about this film; on the one hand it’s great – great dancing, great singing, great songs and Cher – but on the other hand it's possibly one of the worst films ever – poor story, poor acting, an abomination of Burlesque dancing and Cher! It's made it on to this list for the former points of course, but for the 100% haters...don’t hate! Just watch.
The Full Monty // Donna Summer - 'Hot Stuff'
Another movie montage scene, this time courtesy of Robert Carlyle et al. Who'd have thought this movie would have been such a hit...6 unemployed steel workers from Sheffield prancing about getting the kecks off! Danny Boyle didn't think it was good enough and turned it down, thanks goodness Peter Cattaneo picked it up instead! Donna Summer's 'Hot Stuff' will forever recall the lads standing in the doll queue practising their routine, brilliant.
Billy Elliot // The Jam - 'Town Called Malice'
When I first saw this scene I cried, it still brings a tear to my eye. The rejection from his family and his desire to dance just bursts through the very core of this piece and it’s absolutely magnificent. It’s as if The Jam's 'Town Called Malice' was made for this scene and that Julie Walters and Jamie Bell were made for this movie!
West Side Story // Various - 'America'
I had to end on a classic, and what a classic it is. The romanticized version of the girls America versus the stark truths of the boys America...all set to one of the best choreographed pieces ever! The first rap battle? The first dance-off? Quite possibly! George Chakiris and Rita Moreno always stole the show for me; they both won the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for supporting actor / actress in 1962 so clearly I'm not alone with my view!
So that’s it, for now. And I know what you’re al saying where’s Singing In The Rain, where’s Honey, where’s Step Up...well truth be told, I've not seen them...yet...but watch this space and when I do, I’ll add my favourites to this list, but until then, enjoy this. And keep dancing!