The Talent Behind Dance Sequences In Film

Recently I posted a review of David O.Russell’s recent film ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ which still remains the highest scoring film I’ve reviewed, it is a genuine treasure. In a section of the review I found myself hating my own creation of ‘rapid reviews’ because I wanted to talk a lot more about certain elements but had to be concise. One of the elements I feel I didn’t give enough credit to was the dance sequences that were involved in the film, which for me were some of the best scenes. If you haven’t read my review then I would suggest you do so if you want to see what I made of the film.

Personally I feel as though the dance sequences in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ display an incredible amount of talent, not just on the director’s part but from the actors as well. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn a dance routine and to time it perfectly so I have a lot of respect for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who more than clearly deserved her academy award for her performance. The physical challenge of learning a dance when you’re not used to it is something to look back on with pride after you have mastered it like Cooper and Lawrence did in the film. I was impressed to see how well David O. Russell had handled the dancing element, it shows true talent for a film director to pull off a dance scene well. He managed to create a sense that the two characters were similar in the sense that they shared the dance floor, but then also showed how they contrasted as dancers. They were clearly two separate entities when they danced and O. Russell managed to show this through close up shots of their movements whilst dancing. The end dance scene is fantastic, managing to be both fun and charming when they dance to Stevie Wonder and the White Stripes, but then also quite serious when it came to the characters dancing to the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Different dancing styles were covered in the sequence, making it even more impressive to see how well they were transferred to the screen through wider shots and close ups to contrast their different levels of energy at certain times.

It’s not just ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ that had impressed me for dancing though, I find it impressive on a general level when a director forms brilliant dance sequences in a film. Take Stephen Daldry’s British hit ‘Billy Elliot’, it’s one of the best dance films ever made and in my opinion one of the best British films to be made. Making a film that is based on a young boy becoming passionate about dancing during a darker time of hegemonic masculinity and the miner’s strikes shows a definite contrast between different types of people. It’s not just important to see how the character of Billie Elliot dances to break the social expectations of a young boy, it’s important to see that his dancing is a form of expressing his emotions. All of his anger over the situation with his dad, all of his happiness when with his teacher, all of the sadness over the loss of his mother is shown through his dancing. The significance of the character’s approach to dance was also crucial because added a deeper level to what dance meant to him. He jumps from dancing to instrumental and classical pieces of music to dancing along to T. Rex with a football. The different dancing styles were shown clearly and it displays how people have different approaches to dance. The camera shots were very precise and moves along with Billy as he danced, capturing the emotion that was in his face and his movements as a dancer which shows just how much care was taken shooting the film. The film was very simplistic and showed an immense amount of talent, from both Jamie Bell as a strong leading actor and Stephen Daldry as a talented director.

Even the slightest bit of dancing in a film can impress me, all it takes is two or three minutes of dancing that were made very well. An example that leaps out instantly is the closing minutes of ‘The Artist’ which gave me goosebumps if I’m perfectly honest. The film was very impressive, showing a huge movement in the history of film and how people coped with advancements in to the future. It was a light hearted film that was a lot of fun and a pleasure to watch, but the sequence at the end in which Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo dance together to the piece of music ‘Peppy And George’ composed by Ludovic Bource, was fantastic. It was filmed and timed so that the two actors danced perfectly in time with each other, showing one of the most important themes behind the film; the unity of people regardless of gender. Both actors were clearly dedicated to their roles and showed a lot of commitment to pull the scene off , with Jean Dujardin showing how worthy he was of his academy award. Michale Hazanavicius also displayed how worthy he was of his academy award for directing, not just for this end scene but for the film in general. To make a big and bold silent film in the crowd of mainstream cinema and make it successful is commendable on a number of levels. The dancing sequence at the end was a brilliant display of how film should be made, it was shot perfectly to show the extent of how energetic the characters were and to show the unity of two characters who once opposed each other. Truly marvelous film that deserved every award it received.

There is still stigma attached to people appreciating films that contain elements of dance, with people labeling such films as ‘feminine’ or indeed ‘girly’, but the remarks of the shallow minded mean nothing to someone like me who is passionate about film and embraces the different forms it comes in. Only seeing one element to a film not only shows impatience, but also incompetence when watching films because they clearly have depths and different layers that some viewers can’t be bothered to look for. It’s like I always say; ignorance is bliss, particularly if it’s your mother tongue.

It takes a lot of courage to attempt a film that has dance sequences in it, but if they are done well then it pays of greatly. I feel that adding a dance element to films can show an enormous amount of talent and is the sign of a director who is clearly capable of handling different types of film. Dance is something that appears to be overlooked in films, especially by the mainstream audiences who are easily won over by expensive CGI and 3D cinema with lots of explosions and guns. If that is what the modern audience wants then it’s not for me to try and change their minds, but I do think they are missing out greatly on some of the best pieces of films you will experience.

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