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Is dance in the movies making a comeback?

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Jennifer Dunning writes about dancing in the movies in the NYTimes:

Invitation to the Dance (Hollywood Version)

Dance may be working its way back into film after a decline that started for the movie musical in the 1950's. The success of the film version of "Chicago," due out on video on Aug. 19, may serve to reinvigorate the genre. And there is already considerable buzz about Robert Altman's "Company," a backstage ballet film scheduled to open in December, with remakes following next year of "Dirty Dancing" (set in Cuba under the title "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights"), and "Shall We Dance?," in which Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez play the shy businessman and the beautiful ballroom dance teacher of the 1997 Japanese film. That film — not to be confused with the 1937 Astaire-Rogers musical of the same name — is about dancing and establishes the woman as the traditional concert-dance muse the man encounters on his voyage of self-discovery. Fred needs his Ginger here.
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I think that dance is gradually showing itself in the movies, but that we're still at the "one swallow doesn't make a summer" stage. The interest in films that are dance-heavy gives one a reason to hope for more, but we'll have to see what the bean-counters encourage the studios to do. Indies will always be with us, thank heaven, to take on projects that the big organizations don't want, but I recall the two makings of "Liaisons Dangereuses", which unfortunately did not break the old Hollywood saw about shows where they write with feathers being box office poison.

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I wouldn't call the recent movies a comeback, exactly. Moulin Rouge and Chicago, the most frequently cited examples in this regard, featured stars with very limited background in musicals and even more limited singing and dancing skills. The scores were based on old songs, not new ones, never a good sign. I think we'll always see a few movies featuring dance from time to time but that isn't the same as a true revival of dance in film, which I don't expect to see. It's encouraging that they are trying another "Dirty Dancing," which was a real dance movie. Emile Ardolino is gone, however, and there aren't that many truly dance-minded directors around these days. (Don't talk to me about Rob Marshall, PLEEEZE.)

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I thought Rasta Thomas would be the man to revive movie dancing -- he could have been (and still could be) the John Travolta of his generation. Cross-trained in every kind of dancing imaginable (martial arts, modern, jazz, fusion and ballet) he has a HUGE stage persona. I always liked him most in the non-ballet stuff; he's not a Prince, and his ballet was in High Competition Mode.

Like ballet, you need the directors (and I'm sure dirac is right, there aren't any) and you need the people who know how to do a musical, and old timers say they're all gone too, and then you need the stars.

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