I would like to see some straight modern dance movies

I'm reading Film Art (Brodwell & Thompson, 2008) right now, and I just read about the genre of the musical.

First off I'd like to say that I don't like characterizing "musical" as a genre, for the same reason Brad Bird doesn't like "animation" classified as a genre: you an have any genre done as a musical or an animation or both. It's almost like saying "film" is a genre. It's not. It's a medium, an art form.

That rant aside, the book introduced some terms I like. The "backstage musical" is about performers, who in the course of the film perform for audiences in the film (e.g. That Thing You Do!). Typically this means a film about actors or musicians. In contrast the "straight musical" involves non-actors whose singing and dancing are a part of their everyday life (e.g. The Wizard of Oz, Little Shop of Horrors.) Some movies seem to be halfway between, like and The Producers and Moulin Rouge, in which there are actors performing for audiences, but they also sing and dance other times too.

I love modern dance. For a couple of years now I've longed for a dance movie. To borrow the terminology of musicals, I'd like to see a "straight" dance movie. Though I liked the film The Company, it was, you might say, a "backstage" dance movie, because it's about dancers, not normal people who are just dancing in the movie.

What I'd like to see is a film in which people just dance. Kind of like going to a modern dance performance, except on film. Or, more like a traditional musical, people dancing at certain times during the story. I don't know any film that really does this, without also being a musical.

And why not? Film is a great medium for dance: You can have elaborate, beautiful sets, and longer, more difficult dances because you can have take after take until it's exactly right, and you're done. You don't have to worry about dancers tiring. You can also see better. In fact, I suggest that film is a better medium for dance than the stage, for the same reasons that martial arts stories are better for the film than for stage.

I'd love to see films like this. But I'm not a choreographer nor a filmmaker (yet) so I can't do it. How about it, Hollywood?


Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. (2008). Film Art. Eighth Edition. McGraw-Hill: Boston.


pesfucius said…
Hmmmmm....(pause)hmmmmm. Let me think about this for a moment while I type. Okay. Got it. Well, first off I think it's a very good idea and I'm sure there are non-American movies which are straight dance movies, though I do not know of any. The reason dance works on a stage is you can see the whole, and then multiples of the whole as in adding more than one dancer. If you shoot the "whole" in film--just set up a camera and record--it's very boring. In film, we want the magnification...we want UP CLOSE...we want pieces and not the whole. So a choreographer who spent much time conceiving a dance for the entire, whole dancer, is not going to have his work represented in the way his medium demands. In a straight dance movie, you see the pieces. The hand, the side of the face, so that only parts are highlighted. But what is exciting to me is what the sound would be of this kind of movie. From a theater, in a live performance, the dance seems effortless, however if we got closer, we may get a hint of the effort. In the straight dance movie, we may marvel at the form of the human body and not the whole dance as much.

One last thing, you call on Hollywood to do this kind of movie. Never gonna happen. I don't know many movie buyers in America for this kind of movie. Better appeal to the other countries of the world.
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