Reel Dance: Dance in the cinema. What it means to us and the industry

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

Movies have shaped dance careers and inspired choreographers.

What would dance be like if we didn't have dance movies? The inspiration that is found when watching a dance movie has helped shape the industry. How many dancers started dancing because they watched a movie and got inspired to try a class? How many dancers tried different styles because they saw a great dance movie? Dance in film has made it more accessible to those that would not have the opportunity to see dance on a stage. Because of Center Stage many people that are not dancers learned what turn out is, so many people got to see the hard work dance is and can appreciate it in a way they never would have without these movies. Movies have shaped dance careers and inspired choreographers.

Personally I have memories of seeing Dirty Dancing on the TV and loving it. It made me reach outside my ballet box at a young age. This led to my growth as a contemporary dancer, seeing that the body could be moved in different ways and express so much more then I had seen before. I was 5 years old.

I reached out to some fellow dancers and asked them how dance in movies effected them.

Sabrina: "dance movies (like step up), when I saw performers dance or dance battle, it gives me the same feeling you get when you go to a concert and watch a live performance. I love seeing a character being swept away in their own performance and whatever character they’re portraying and I love any strong emotions they invoke whether it be power, pain, silliness even lol or love. Step up movies always draw me towards hip hop and contemporary styles as well. Adam Sevani always moved me. Overall I definitely have to say they’ve inspired the performance and character aspect of dancing which is what I try to do as best as I can when I dance now!"

Arianna: "It definitely encouraged me to experiment with styles. Contrary to popular opinion, I love Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights and it was a big driver for me learning salsa."

April: "Movie Musicals have definitely impacted me the most as far as choreography and inspiration. It’s the idea that so much is going on and it all comes together in this magical way. I’m obsessed"

This love and need for dance movies has inspired me to do several future posts all about some of my favorite dance movies. I want to also watch and review new dance movies like High Strung, Cats, and the documentary Strip Down, Rise up, to name a few.

Without dance movies there would be very little understanding, very few learning dance, and even fewer sharing dance.

What are some of your favorite dance movies? How did they inspire you?

Some of my favorites are Dirty Dancing, Billy Elliot, The Company, Burlesque, Chicago, Flash Dance and Center Stage!

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