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Monday, August 10, 2015

Why 'Dirty Dancing' is the Perfect Summer Dance Movie

Well it's a new week and a lot of youngins' round these parts have to start back to school which is kind of unbelievable since it still totally feels like summer outside.  But whether you're hitting the books this week or not, I wanted to focus today's Dance Movie post on the perfect summer-time dance flick ever in the history of the world: Dirty Dancing.

Yes.  I went there.  

Dirty Dancing may be one of the corniest, superficial and unbelievable dance movies ever made, but it also maintains an undeniably attractive sweetness that, somehow captures the very essence of summer into 90 minutes of sexy moves and Patrick Swayze.  

It's every girls summer dream - to find love and romance whilst on a family vacation.  But it's not just love for Johnny Castle that Baby discovers, she also uncovers a love for dance.  It gives here a whole new way to express herself, one that she never knew existed.  Dance gives her confidence.  Dance gives her perspective.  

Dirty Dancing is great because it's like a training montage, coming of age story, romance, drama, period piece and class-warfare story all rolled into one.  The dance training montage set to the song Hungry Eyes is pretty unforgettable, and the scenes where they dance on the fallen log and practice the lift in the water? Classic!   (BTW: the best place to practice lifts is definitely NOT in the water. Sure you can playfully fall in and end up laughing while cradled in Patrick Swayze's arms, but the weight and resistance of the water makes the actual lift a gazillion times harder!) 

The older I get (therefore the more times I've seen Dirty Dancing) the more I'm compelled by the way the dancers are portrayed as the "bad boys," the "trouble makers," and the kids from the wrong sides of the tracks.  I used to think this was comically stupid, but in a way, it makes sense.  The dancers at Kellerman's are the only characters who haven't sold out.  They aren't following the conformity machine of the 50's.  They aren't looking to get rich.  They dance because they love it - They just have to dance!  And they are willing to be poor to do it.... Sounds like more than a few dancers I know!

The soundtrack, which is meant to be true to the film's time-period of 1963, features some great tunes of the time, but also, without any explanation or historical truth, also features new 80's songs, such as the closing number set to "Time of Your Life."  Even though this musical incongruity makes no sense, all the songs are so catchy and fun, it doesn't seem to matter.  

Wonderfully quotable 1 liners like "Nobody puts Baby in the Corner," and "This is my dance space, this is your dance space," are additional obvious reasons Dirty Dancing is brilliant.  

And naturally, the choreography and all around fun style of the dancing plays a huge part in making this film one of the best summer dance films ever!  If you've never seen it or you've seen it a dozen times, keep the summer feeling going this week with Dirty Dancing!  

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