Dance has cropped up more and more on big and small screens in the last ten years, but not all dance media has gotten an equal time to shine. Below I’ve made some recommendations for great dance media that may have flown just under your radar.
If you like America’s Best Dance Crew or Step Up, check out Rize.
America’s Best Dance Crew does a great job of highlighting hip-hop dance, but strays from hip-hop’s roots as a primarily underground dance movement by forcing competing dance crews to perform in a commercial setting. The Step Up movie franchise capitalizes on a crew from the streets hitting it big, which isn’t realistic (albeit not impossible) for many dance crews in the real world. If you are interested in a more authentic experience of street dance, check out the video documentary Rize.
Rize chronicles the krumping dance movement that was born in South Central Los Angeles, focusing on the movement’s roots in clowning and street youth culture. Clowning is a style of dance that was invented by Thomas “Tommy the Clown” Johnson, who incorporated hip hop dancing into his act as a birthday clown. Check out this interview with Tommy as he preps for a battle night, and be sure to rent Rize to learn more about the krumping movement.
**Be sure not to confuse “krump” with “crunk,” the latter of which is a term coined by Lil’ Jon that blends the words “crazy” and “drunk.”
If you like Black Swan or Centerstage, check out The Company.
If you’re a dance enthusiast, you may have been disappointed by the lack of actual dance footage in Black Swan. If you’re a film enthusiast, you may have been disappointed about the lack of quality acting in Centerstage. Either way, The Company should cure your ills.
The Company, which focus on Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, features a less linear story but delves more into the “real life” experience of being in a professional ballet company. The Joffrey’s dancers, choreographers and staff members contributed their stories to build a film that highlights dedication, discipline and beautiful dancing. The film stars Malcolm McDowell, Neve Campbell, James Franco and quite obviously, the Joffrey Ballet company (circa the early 2000s).
If you like Dancing with the Stars, check out Leading Ladies.
Like Dancing with the Stars, Leading Ladies peers into the world of professional ballroom dancing. Very much unlike Dancing with the Stars, however, the film gives its viewers a real sense of knowing its main characters, and doesn’t overly glamorize the profession. Directed by Daniel and Erika Randall Beahm, the film features professional ballroom dance champion and choreographer Melanie LaPatin, So You Think You Can Dance Season Two Champion Benji Schwimmer and newcomer Laurel Vail. Watch the trailer here to get a better sense of the plot.
If you like YouTube, check out Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive.
Like YouTube, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive site allows users to scroll through short clips of brilliant dancing, but with added educational bonuses. Dance Interactive users can search clips by artist, genre and era, and can then learn more about the performer(s) they are watching by reading the informational blurbs that accompany each clip. Visiting this site is a great way to learn a lot about dance in a short amount of time.