Trifecta #11: Let's Dance



by: Kristy Sturdivant

You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.

The art of dancing has been in film since the Golden Era of Hollywood.  Stars like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, have been immortalized in the film industry because of their fancy footwork.  With film studios starting to produce more musicals, we are now privy to some spectacular dance scenes by some of our favorite actors and actresses.  I’m going to recommend three movies that have one common thread, and that is the choreographer.  A choreographer is typically an unsung artist on a film, but what they depict in a dance sequence can bring about emotions that are so intense that no dialogue can match it.  John ‘Cha Cha’ O’Connell was the choreographer on the following three films, one of which could be argued as the revival of the musical itself.  If you want to spend a weekend watching some fantastic footwork and athleticism from some of your favorite actors and actresses then you should give these films a try.

I’ll start off with a recent one that is always fun to revisit, Walt Disney’s ENCHANTED.  A real life princess story, starring Amy Adams as Giselle, tells a tale of a naive girl who finds her true prince in New York.  This film was a hit in many ways, and the song “That’s How You Know” was nominated for an Academy Award with the dance sequence performed at the Oscars.  This number was incredible because it was coordinated so well.  With so many people involved in a dance routine there is always a possibility of mistakes, but this was choreographed flawlessly and the audience was able to get caught up in the story and feel the happiness from the main character.  This movie is worth watching for the performance by Amy Adams alone.

The next film choreographed by Mr. O’Connell is SHALL WE DANCE, starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez.  This film is actually a remake of a Japanese movie of the same title, but the dancing was updated a bit in the American version.  In this film, we follow Gere’s character as he learns ballroom dancing to break out of his workaholic routine.  Ms. Lopez plays his dancing instructor and Ms. Sarandon plays his distrusting wife.  We knew Richard Gere could dance thanks to his tap routine in Chicago, so it was nice to see that his footwork could extend to the ballroom floor.  Ballroom dancing is a sensuous conversation between two people and that was displayed in this film by Gere and Lopez.  Although the plot is not particularly strong, the film is worth viewing for the dance lessons and the end ballroom competition.

To complete the O’Connell Trifecta you have to watch spectacular, spectacular MOULIN ROUGE.  Due to the success of this film we have seen an influx in musicals coming from Hollywood and one of the people we need to thank is John ‘Cha Cha’ O’Connell.  The dance sequences in MOULIN ROUGE are nothing short of amazing.  From the opening scene of “Cancan/Lady Marmelade” to the very end, we are led through a story told through songs and dance about the love between a boy and girl.  I dare anyone to tell me that they were not transfixed and holding their breath during the “El Tango de Roxanne”, and then wished they too could take part in something so passionate and amazing.

At the end of this Trifecta, if you appreciate the art of dancing and the impact of a film choreographer a little more, then my job here is done.

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