Ask nearly anyone to tell you a list of their favourite movie scenes, and you’ll find that at least one of them involves dance in some form. Why? Well, to quote Jean-Luc Godard “cinema is the truth twenty-four times per second”. That statement has more or less become the motto, the trademark of this relatively young art form, something that begins to scratch the surface of why exactly we enjoy looking at people we don’t know, that mostly don’t exist, on a screen. But what’s all this got to do with dance scenes, you ask? Well, I don’t know about the rest of you reading my tiny corner of the internet, but I believe that dance scenes rank so highly amongst our favourites because of the truth we find in them.
How many of our happiest memories involve dancing, of feeling so connected to someone or a number of people all feeling the same joy and freedom as you, an unforgettable, unique form of happiness. We’re opening ourselves up, acting differently than we do minute-to-minute, temporarily ridding ourselves of inhibitions. Dancing definitely gives me an unmatched type of joy, I feel a unique sense of being alive and happy. Movement is the common language we all speak, the world over. We all understand, regardless of location, beliefs, or the words we use, we understand it, and are able to interpret the freedom, joy, pain, desire, and sense of belonging it carries and may be trying to communicate. There’s not much more truth or common ground about the human experience to be found than in a dance scene.
Pride is a classic (as someone I was talking to put it) ‘small town learns to love the gays’ film that crops up out of the UK every few years. Its been done before, the story of the typical, very traditional village from working class Britain, who starts off as close minded (here it’s a mining town during the strikes also chronicled by Billy Elliot and the like) but learns that everyone is more alike than different, except for the one party pooper who never changes. There’s plenty of drama and laughs along the way, and it’s an uplifting ride. Yeah, Pride‘s been done many times before, and, granted, it’s not a perfect film. Every narrative beat is predictable and the one detractor from diversity’s storyline is never revisited, but it’s just so unapologetically joyful, exuberant, and pulls it off so well that you can’t help but forgive it and leave the cinema having had an excellent time.
In a film about a. uniting people, and b. in the 80s, the crucial turning point, where acceptance and unity is first hinted at, was predestined to be through a rousing dance. How else were you going to bring a whole bunch of people together except through Dominic West’s amazing dance moves? There’s no other way, really. It’s one of the most exhilarating scenes, and not just because of the early 80s disco music (although that definitely plays a part) and sees the first of the marked changes in the towns dynamic after a tense few days. To put it simply, it’s a pure evocation of joy in one of the most visible forms of expression that has made the film so loved, the universal response we all have to dance that I talked about previously. In addition to solidarity, Pride‘s about life, about making the most of it and being shamelessly yourself. Life and freedom, in their purest forms, are leaping out of this scene.
Look out for more on the legendary history of dance scenes soon.