FiveList: Dance Movies

Over the weekend, my old friend and Generation Goat co-host Jon Martin and I decided to check out the new(ish) Darren Aronofsky flick Black Swan. The premise is pretty simple: Natalie Portman plays a dancer who goes nuts while preparing to play a role in Swan Lake. And the result is a fantastic film, a dark-as-hell horror movie for anyone who’s ever danced on stage at all.

But scary parts aside, one of the things I found myself most mesmerized by is that particular way in which dance movies, even moreso than movies in general, fetishize the human body. And so, I present to you today five dance flicks you simply must check out when you have the chance.

1. Black Swan

If you haven’t seen it yet, do so while you have the chance. On the big screen, the shots of dancer’s back muscles in particular are striking. I lost count of how many times we got long, detailed shots of just what a back looks like when it’s involved in all of the upper body moves a ballet dancer might make. And that’s not even mentioning all of the other body porn that’s going on here. Or the story, which is crazy and dark and all kinds of good.

2. Center Stage

When you’re married to a former dance major and the father to a couple of girls who love to shake their booties, you’re bound to watch a lot of movies like these. Thankfully, they seem to gravitate towards the tolerable ones like Center Stage and away from the piles of shit like Save the Last Dance. Seriously, Center Stage is worth it just for the concluding dance numbers alone. If you can stomach the melodrama that precedes it—and, let’s face it, we all like a little melodrama now and then, right?—then this one is definitely worth a try.

3. Dirty Dancing

I kind of refuse to believe you’ve never seen this one. If you really haven’t, you must. It’s not really “dirty,” per se. But it is pretty freaking hot for a movie featuring Jerry Orbach. Oh, and the soundtrack ain’t bad either. Here’s a bit more on my love for the flick.

4. Footloose

The least sexual of the movies on this list, it’s also the only one I’ve never watched from front-to-back. I’ve seen the whole damn thing in pieces, and every piece is fun to watch and absolutely frenetic in its love of all things kinetic, but one of these days I’m finally going to sit down and watch it all. I think I’m finally old enough to handle it.

5. Showgirls

This one is here for one reason: so I can pay tribute to the The Waysiders Podcast crew by saying “I’m not a whore! I’m a dancer!”

Seriously, though, you remember when I asked Bryan White about the top five movies that are so bad that they’re actually good? Yep, Showgirls would have made my top five easily.