How Dancing Has Evolved And
Movies Have Portrayed The Changes.
The music, the people, the romance the moment when you feel like it is only you and he in the entire world, and no one else matters. This, friends, is the world of dancing. Dancing has evolved through decades and movies have portrayed those changes. It is said that every ten years there is a great dance movie that is born; and that movie portrays a certain generation. The journey through out the history of great dance movies begins in 1963, when Dirty Dancing was born.
Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze as Johnny and Jennifer Grey as Baby, is set in a time period when a little black dress and the perfect set of pearls was all that was needed for a great night out.
According to Susan Brady, dance teacher, dances like the twist, the jerk and the pony were most popular in social dancing. “In the 60’s dancing consisted of all of these named dances, and back then it was fun to do them even in public,” Brady said.
Following the 60’s was a more glittery and disco-ball-driven time, known only as….the 70’s. The only one movie truly describes what it means to survive and dance in 1977 and that is Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta as Toni and Karen Lynn Gorney as Stephanie.
Bright lighted dance floors and the perfect disco ball was all this generation of people needed to get their groove on. Disco was a complicated sequence of moves that dancers were able to make look like a piece of cake.
Saturday Night Fever portrays how competitive dancing could be in the real world. Toni is a young, energetic and talented dancer that wants to make his dreams come true by winning a dance competition along with his partner Stephanie. “The 70’s were all about you and your partner on the dance floor,” Brady said. “I can remember practicing during the week with the guy I wanted to go with, and then going and dancing with him on Friday night at the clubs. Disco was the kind of dance that said if you didn’t have a partner you looked like the dork who doesn’t know how to dance.”
In 1983 a movie that described the 80’s impeccably came out on the silver screen and that movie was Flashdance.
This particular movie may not be well known to the teenagers of today, but for most of their parents, this movie impacted their lives. “When this movie first came out the directors just thought it would be a nice movie for the kids and they would make a couple a bucks on it,” Brady explains. “But when it came out in theaters it was a hit. They (the directors) had no idea that it would change the clothing, music and way of life for most teenagers in the 80’s.”
Alex Owens, played by Jennifer Beals, is a dancer at the local club and is striving to become a ballerina. The movie shows all sorts of dancing performed by Jennifer and the different people who work at the same club. Jazz and technical dancing were some of the most popular dances used.
Ahh the 90’s…a time where most of the student body lived out their childhoods. Things like Sesame Street and stories of Bill Clinton are very familiar. Hip Hop and break dancing became very popular in the 90’s and grew to become something bigger.
The only dance movie that truly defines the 90’s is Save the Last Dance. Although Save the Last Dance Dance did not come out till 2001 the movie was set between 1998 and 1999.
With the use of hip hop, break dancing, rap and ballet Save the Last Dance began to show a different side of the dancing world, the side that is most known today. Ballet mixed in with today’s dancing is not seen that often, but choreographers were able to combine the very diverse styles of hip hop and ballet to make a new breed of dance for the movie.
The new movie to add to the 10 Year Generation Dance Movie list is….Step Up.
The feature film Step Up, starring Channing Tatum as Tyler and Jenna Dewan as Nora, is the perfect example of what dance has become through out all these years. The ingenious mix of hip hop, break dancing, freak dancing, ballet and modern dancing is what make this movie a perfect addition to the 10 year list.
Clark Also, U.S History teacher, commented some on the direct reflection that the movies make. “I think that these certain movies depict the time periods very accurately,” Also said. “Movies like Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever immediately bring the audience into that certain time period. Whether it is the clothed, the music or the dancing these movies create a picture of that time period for the viewers.”
Things have certainly changed since the 1960’s. But in each movie one lesson or moral always stays the same. And that is to always reach for you dreams, and never give up those dreams. And there is the other common factor that brings generation upon generation together and that is the urge to get on the dance floor and dance.
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