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Year in Review: Best Dance Moments

[Michael surveyed the year in dance in cinema for 2012. For 2013, Dancin' Dan takes over the listing of key dance moments in the cinematic year. - Editor]

I started dancing as a kid because of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in Singin' In The Rain, and haven't looked back since. I'm continually fascinated by the ways in which dance is filmed and what dance on film might say about the state of the state of both arts.

What do the films of 2013 have to say about dance? Not much but definitely that we dance to have fun, especially at parties! Dancing gifs and best moments after the jump


Whether trashy (Spring Breakers) or classy (The Great Gatsby) or somewhere in between (The Bling Ring, American Hustle), when movie characters wanted to have fun together, they danced.

There were also, of course, some... interesting... solo moves. Take the awkward white boy in The Way Way Back or Jennifer Lawrence's angry, bored housewife in American Hustle.

To be honest, I wasn't too thrilled about most of the dancing in the movies this year. The annual trashy dance flick (Battle of the Year, basically Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo for the "So You Think You Can Dance" generation) looked unbearably awful from the trailers, despite the awesome-looking b-boying. Not that I would have seen it anyway, as I wouldn't be caught dead paying to see a film starring Chris Brown. However, there was enough enjoyment to be had that I was able to compile a short list ('tis the season):

Top Three 2013 Cinematic Dance Moments

3. I don't think there was another scene this year that made me laugh as hard in the theater as this scene from The Heat. I want to get drunk with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock and then dance to "Groove is in the Heart" nightly, don't you?

2. It didn't last very long, but amidst all the raucous partying and chest-pumping of Leonardo DiCaprio's Wolf of Wall Street, this wedding reception moment was an oasis of actual fun.


1. The only actual full dance performance I caught on film in 2013, and by far the best, was in Noah Baumbach's glorious Frances Ha. I was a bit nervous when I heard that Frances was a modern dancer, especially since I wasn't aware that Greta Gerwig had a dance background (she discussed her love of dancing with Nathaniel recently). Even during the film I was nervous that somewhere along the way we would see a performance by the dance company Frances apprentices for, and that it would be the sort of deadly serious dreck that has become a clichéd idea of what "modern dance" is. 

But thankfully, when Frances finally [slight spoiler alert] gets her act together and choreographs a piece on her own, it's actually quite lovely (just like the film itself). It's also the most accurate representation of a modern dance concert I've seen in an American film. Frances's solo dancing moments throughout the film are also inspiring - you get the feeling that Frances is most comfortable, and most herself, when she's dancing. That's a feeling that dancers know all too well, and something that's worth celebrating in any year.

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Reader Comments (19)

Clealy you haven't seen Paulina García dancing in the final scene of Gloria. Not to be missed.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue - No, I haven't!! I am frothing at the mouth to see Gloria, given all the incredible things I've heard about it. I can't stand stupid release strategies and dates, especially for foreign films. Just release films on the same date internationally, people! Is it that hard?!?

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

dancing on film makes me so happy. i loved ALL of these moments. plus second Peggy Sue's love of Gloria

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm a little disappointed that dance scene in American Hustle never really happened. Plus, I would've gladly watched more of that Cooper-Adams disco scene.

Ballroom scene in Laurence Anyways. Nobody's really dancing so much as playing to Dolan's strengths as a designer and having a real ear for soundtracks but Suzanne Clement's entrance has her almost floating in the room is pretty memorable.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I hope you like it! It's one of those dance scenes that totally changes your mood and leaves you with a stupid/marvelous smile in your face for hours.

P.S. May I add the male flight attendants in I'm So Excited!. They're just divine!

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

One of the few scenes I really liked in Catching Fire was that little moment of Katniss dancing with Plutarch at the Victory Tour party. I also enjoyed the choreography in Frozen.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

CMG - I was also incredibly disappointed that the trailer promised that big line dance and it never happened. And frankly, the film could have been just that disco scene and I would have been a very happy camper. Bradley Cooper has never been hotter.

I am very mad at myself for missing I'm So Excited.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I'm with everyone on the American Hustle scene, which was, quite seriously, everything I wanted and more. Never button your shirt again, Bradley. Never button it again.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

Also, props to Emma Watson's glorious tongue-swipe, but even more than that, does anyone else remember Taissa Farmiga barely keeping it together, flailing arms and all, during that amazing/terrifying coke montage in Bling Ring?

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

Matt eng: i seriously think bling ring is the most underrated film of 2013

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdave

I remember in the "Yes, no, maybe so" of "American Hustle", that dancing part was a yes... how is the cliché of white people dancing next to each other still amusing to moviegoers?

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Me34 -- cliche? don't you have to happen like really regularly to be cliche? I would love it if there were enough dance sequences in movies to make dance a cliche ;)

January 1, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I was peeved that American Hustle group dance scene didn't happen! Misleading trailer moment!

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoJo

Hustle convinced me that Russell should do a musical. The fact that I know at least half of the Hustle ensemble can sing (Not that Bale will ever return to singing but I'm sure Renner and Adams would jump on it) kept making me think he'd surely do it with one of them. Amy Adams for Phyllis Rogers Stone in Follies, please!!!! Yeah, Follies. It has no script beyond all-star songs/numbers? Has that ever stopped Russell before?!?!?!?!?

Me34- I don't know, given how Bradley and Amy seemed like exceptional dancers during the film, it wouldn't be the worst thing to see them dance at what appears to be a party to 'celebrate'.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Peggy Sue - Yes the Gloria dance scene was terrific, it meant much more than just a dance.

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersuzy

denny - I so agree about Cooper in AH. Who knew he could move his hips like that?

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

what about the dance number in GLORIA?!

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersteve

Ha! Just heard Russell on Elvis Mitchell's program, The Treatment, at a live screening of AH. He is probably heading towards doing a musical, at least in his mind!

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

the train in THE GREAT BEAUTY!

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSB

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