Is there anything better in a comedy, drama, horror, or any other unsuspecting genre when a movie breaks out into an energetic dance sequence? Used for good humor, experimental exploration and pure cinematic joy, such footage has been used by some of the best minds in cinema, with our breakdown of the best dance scenes of all time featuring names such as Quentin Tarantino, Claire Denis, David Lynch, Spike Lee and Jean-Luc Godard.
Indeed, while a dance scene in a musical is completely normal, some of the finest of such scenes in film come in films that otherwise display no rhythm sensibility. Movies like Celine Sciamma Youth, by Andrea Arnold Aquarium and Jennie Livingston’s genre documentary Paris is burning contain such dynamic dance sequences, but none could make our strict ten-movie cut.
Instead, our list of ten films covers all the bases, including throwaway Hollywood comedies, sci-fi musings and crucial cultural dramas, with each film including a dance scene that catches you off guard and wraps you in a feeling of delightful joy or, conversely, pleasant confusion. Take a look at our list of the ten best dance scenes in non-musical movies below.
The 10 best dance scenes in non-musical films:
ten. call me by your name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
by Luca Guadagnino call me by your name became a cultural sensation when it was released in 2017, catapulting actor Timothée Chalamet to international fame, and for good reason, too. A beautiful sex romance drama, the story follows a romance between a 17-year-old college student and an older man hired as his father’s research assistant in 1980s Italy and stars Chalamet alongside Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg.
The dance scene in question is somewhat unusual, with the real sparkle coming from Chalamet’s character’s reaction to watching her lover dance with someone else. Sitting on the sidelines while smoking, he gazes at Hammer’s character with a nostalgic gaze as well as a host of other emotions made all the more compelling by Chalamet’s performance.
9. Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)
Remarkably, the iconic dance sequence from Napoleon Dynamite in which the titular protagonist takes the stage outside the school and dances to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” is performed spontaneously, though it appears to be a totally planned, albeit erratic, performance. Playing an alienated teenager who decides to help his friend win class presidency, actor Jon Heder delivers the film’s most memorable scene with his smooth, lanky movements.
Totally capturing the audience’s attention for more than two minutes of pure dancing, Heder’s performance in Napoleon Dynamite remains a pure and innocent gold piece of comedy nearly 20 years after its release.
8. Inner Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Inner Empire, the latest feature film from David Lynch, is a true nightmare for the digital age, telling the story of an actress who begins to embody the character she tries to embody, thus plunging into a nightmarish world of surrealism. At one point, she collapses against the wall of her house as an inextricable performance plays out in front of her to the tune of “The Locomotion” by Little Eva.
Arriving as quickly as it left, the performance feels like a strange fever dream, made worse by jarring strobe light and a camera angle that places us askew and detached from the action.
seven. Ex-Machina (Alex Garland, 2014)
Telling the story of an imprisoned AI humanoid who hopes for a better life outside of his limited space and his maniacal creator who holds a sinister hold on his life, Alex Garland’s modern sci-fi masterpiece features a brief musical interlude that almost steals the show. Winner of a contest to visit the inventor of AI, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) enthusiastically arrives at Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) job until he uncovers several dark secrets.
Speaking to one of his android assistants privately, Caleb’s conversation is interrupted by Nathan who triggers a spontaneous dance between him and the robot, playing Oliver Cheatham’s “Get Down Saturday Night” as he throws serious forms and attempts to reveal a certain humanity from within. his hardened soul.
6. do the right thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
Beginning Spike Lee’s iconic summer-inspired comedy-drama is an electric dance scene that ignites a stick of dynamite beneath the film that deals with the tense tensions of racial issues in Brooklyn. With the director himself in the main role, do the right thing also features the likes of Danny Aiello, Giancarlo Esposito, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro and Rosie Perez.
Perfectly staged, this opening scene sets the pace for the hot-headed film while using Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” to reinforce the urgency of the film’s central message.
5. The great Lebowski (the Coen brothers, 1998)
The most recognizable role of Jeff Bridges’ career, “The Dude” in The great Lebowski became a figurehead of 90s pop culture thanks to his jaded, bohemian approach to everyday life. With the help of co-stars John Goodman and Julianne Moore plus a hilarious screenplay from the Coen brothers, Bridges was allowed to excel as the ultimate cinematic slacker who’s mistaken for a millionaire in classic crime comedy.
One of the character’s most beloved scenes occurs when he is drugged and enters a psychedelic headspace reminiscent of the pageantry of Hollywood’s Golden Age musicals, complete with elaborate costumes and dancing. frantic.
4. pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
“Jack Rabbit Slim’s Dance Contest” is one of the most iconic scenes in Tarantino’s cult classic, with the famous dance contest scene involving John Travolta’s lovable hitman Vincent Vega and the wife of his boss, Mia (Uma Thurman), who he dated. dinner in favor of his superior. After Mia encourages Vincent to enter the dance competition, they both launch into an improvised version to the tune of “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry.
A joyful moment of high-energy innocence in the midst of the violent and blasphemous film, the dance competition scene speaks to the director’s playful rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, showing glimpses of humanity for his high-strung characters.
3. Keeping to himself (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
Iconic dramatic comedy by Jean-Luc Godard, Keeping to himself is considered one of the greatest independent arthouse films of all time. Telling the story of two Hollywood B-loving con artists who convince a language student to help them commit a theft, this French classic bridges the gap between European and Hollywood cinema, demonstrating how cinema on both sides of the Atlantic inspire each other.
Illustrating the characters’ pure youthful energy while giving hints of their nuanced personalities, the dance scene that takes place in the café has become an iconic moment in modern popular culture.
2. Climax (Gaspar Noe, 2018)
If the 2018 film by Gaspar Noé Climax maintained the electric beat of its opening scene so we would still discuss it today as one of the greatest films of the 21st century. Using little more than the film’s fantastic performers plus music by Cerrone, Noah creates a sensational opening scene that sets the pace for the rest of the film but differs entirely in tone and fun.
Contorting their bodies into impossible shapes, as enjoyable as the sequence is, it also opens the door to the horrors of the film to come.
1. Good work (Claire Denis, 1999)
A dance film of a particular kind, the incredible Good work is an artistic exploration of repressed masculinity and an innate desire for youth that manifests in rage.
The film follows a former Foreign Legion officer, Chief Galoup (Denis Lavant), reminiscing about his glorious youth leading troops in Djibouti when a handsome young man, Gilles Sentain (Grégoire Colin), joins his ranks. Jealous of his aesthetic beauty and physical strength, Galoup indirectly kills Sentain and is then sent back to France for a court-martial.
To end this beautiful tale, we join Galoup, dressed in black on a glittering dance floor, where he smokes, pirouettes and glides across the room. Relying on an explosive beat, he leaps off walls and onto the floor in frenzied madness, embracing his new release and finding true happiness in pure spontaneity.
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