3 Iconic Valentine's Day Dances
February 24, 2023
We are almost at the most famous holiday dedicated to love and romance: Valentine's Day. Even though there are multiple ways to show love, gratitude, and devotion to your loved ones, dance is still one of the most popular ways. What other art form makes the heart beat faster and the hips move so easily? Many films depict star-crossed couples resorting to dance to communicate their feelings for one another when words fail. In the spirit of honoring the meeting of love and motion, we present some of the most well-known and heartfelt dances from Hollywood films, context about the movies, and an examination of the aesthetic choices that informed the choreography. These stories may motivate you to explore the more romantic side of choreography.
1. Dirty Dancing – Time of My Life
In the last sequence of this film, working-class hero Johnny Castle brings Baby out of the corner and onto the stage to win over the hearts of The Catskills' resort guests, Baby's disapproving father, and moviegoers throughout the globe. The old-fashioned yet seductive mega-hit title song and the immediately recognizable Lift are only two examples of how timeless this passionate dance is.
Kenny Ortega was inspired by the Latin dances he learned as a child, especially a mambo. He called a lot of what stars Patrick Swayze, and Jennifer Grey did in the movie a "dirty mambo." Like the title suggests, these risqué "dirty" moves were hinted at throughout the film when dance teacher Castle and his coworkers swapped out their traditional foxtrots and waltzes for more freewheeling styles during their off-the-clock dance parties. Ortega fused elements of mambo, salsa, and classic ballroom dancing to reach his vision for the enthusiastic final dance, producing an iconic and intensely emotional sequence reproduced in countless films, pop culture references, and wedding venues throughout the world.
2. La La Land – A Lovely Night
Film fans worldwide hailed the 2016 release of La La Land as an excellent throwback to the golden age of Hollywood musicals. Mandy Moore (no, not that Mandy Moore) put an unbelievable lot of time and attention into her scenes to match the overall mood set by its great period-evoking lighting and rich cinematography. This moment is notable for its witty and stealthy celebration of the back-and-forth beauty of flirtation on a first date, especially in a film full of large-scale, brilliant ensemble dance routines like the iconic "freeway" opening. While strolling to their automobiles after a party in the Hollywood Hills, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) taunt one another with tiny dismissals and put-downs, until the breathtaking view of the city lights and their affections overtake them. They dance under the streetlights as the music builds to a crescendo, venting their passionate tensions and almost locking lips before being rudely stopped by that banal contemporary prop, the mobile phone. This lovely piece is based on jazz dance, as is most of the choreography in the film. Moore uses the foxtrot in particular to create a street-sweeping couple's dance that uses the idea of space to bring the dancers closer and closer together until they finally meet face to face under a lovely evening sky.
3. Grease – You're the One that I Want
Chemistry, the lifeblood of every excellent romantic dance scene, is typically sparked by the inherent conflict between couples from vastly different backgrounds. Though this scene is noisier than others on this list, it still has plenty of the type of intense passion that leaves us gasping for air. At the start of the film, Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) are as different from one another as water and pomade, with Danny the greaser always being trumped by Sandy's exotic charm. By this point in the movie, though, they've already swapped appearances, with one taking on the other set of mannerisms and tics. After coming to terms with the fact that trading fits were all a ruse to bring them closer, the two perform a sizzling duet of rock 'n' roll and doo-wop at the school fair. While Patricia Birch's career began as a dancer, discovered by Merce Cunningham and mentored by Martha Graham, she eventually found herself pulled to the brilliant lights of Broadway. She had already spent two decades working in Broadway musicals when she was hired to choreograph Grease, making her the ideal person to combine the retro rock 'n' roll and modern disco sound with the upbeat sock hop dances that made the show a hit.
Have an Unforgettable Valentine’s Day Dancing with Your Partner
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