December 20th, 2017

Best movie dance sequence ever

Here’s a rousing demonstration of dance as male competition. As part of 1954’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (which has a plot that would never, never fly these days) it features actors who were mostly dancers, and thrills and chills via daredevil stunts. Stick with it—it just builds and builds and builds, and the risks they take are phenomenal.

Choreographer Michael Kidd was a genius. But without the virile energy of Tommy Rall (red shirt) and Matt Matox (yellow shirt) in particular (both of whom I’ve seen on Broadway in later roles) it wouldn’t be nearly as successful. Russ Tamblyn’s (blue shirt) acrobatics are wonderful as well, and Marc Platt (purple) is excellent but not as acrobatic. Some of the townie guys are no slouches, either. The great ballet dancer Jacques D’Amboise (green shirt) is underused; it’s really not quite his genre, I guess. You may notice that the guy in the orange shirt (Jeff Richards) barely dances. That’s because he’s not a dancer, so he’s shoved to the back or way on the side or off-screen. (More here.)

Enjoy:

Choreographer Kidd is the smaller dark-haired guy dancing in this next video.. I’ve searched and searched, but couldn’t find whether he choreographed this number or whether it was Kelly:

26 Responses to “Best movie dance sequence ever

  1. Douglas Weber Says:

    I had it explained to me that those masculine folk dances were devised by the Turks. They would go to the small villages in the Balkins with “new” dances and impress the youth who could do them best.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Douglas Weber:

    All around the world you will find that, on the whole, the pyrotechnics of folk dancing are a masculine undertaking.

  3. AesopFan Says:

    “Here’s a rousing demonstration of dance as male competition. As part of 1954’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” >b>(which has a plot that would never, never fly these days) it features actors who were mostly dancers, and thrills and chills via daredevil stunts.”

    “All around the world you will find that, on the whole, the pyrotechnics of folk dancing are a masculine undertaking.”

    Toxic masculinity at its finest. 🙂

    The female arts of belly dancing and hula don’t have quite as much pyrotech on display, but are also very physically demanding.
    And, of course, male and female ballet moves are equally challenging although different in form.

  4. parker Says:

    Bbbbut males and females are interchangeable. A 110 pound female is just as ready for front line combat zones as a 200 pound muscle bound seal. Just ask Gloria fish with a bicycle.

    I have never heard of 7 Brothers, but that is vigorous dancing.

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Not to take anything away from this very fine performance but the best ever? I’ll take several of Astaire and Rogers dances, as the best ever.

    And as far as athleticism goes, I have yet to see any moment that impresses as much as Kelly’s astonishing move @ .53 seconds into “Invitation to the Dance” Kelly makes it look effortless with rock solid, perfect balance. No Olympian ever ‘stuck it’ better.

    Plus, “both of the dancers are so hot they practically sizzle.” IMO, the sexiness of “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” pales in comparison.

  6. Scott Robinson Says:

    Neo: Bless your beautiful hide!

  7. OKBecky Says:

    I’m chuckling as I remember my mid-teens. Our Young Women youth group got to attend a stage performance of “7 Brides” and loved it. A few months later, we had an activity at a leader’s house, and due to popular demand, the “7 Brides” video was playing. Most every girl there had a crush on the guy in the orange shirt; I was odd woman out with a crush on the guy in the red shirt. 😉

    I’ve never gone with the crowd, LOL.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    OKBecky:

    It’s obvious that red shirt has it all over orange shirt.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Actually, there are many “best evers.” 🙂

  10. vanderleun Says:

    Even though I don’t really pay that much attention to musicals, I do remember this dance scene from 7 Brides. I must have seen it quite young but it is one of those things that stay with you.

    I was watching some sort of twerking dance on TV last night and I thought, “Other than shaking and displaying the ass, what’s the point on all this jive. Choreography seems to have descended into mere booty waving.”

  11. DNW Says:

    Hey, that’s one of the fake cowboy movies I was complaining that they showed on Sunday Night at the Movies, when I was a kid. LOL

    ” But without the virile energy of Tommy Rall (red shirt) …”

    Just to prove I’m not a philistine, I will note that I now know that that’s the guy who jumps out of the arch in “From This Moment On” which is a really great tune with a lot of jazz ensemble potential.

    And for my money, if you have to watch someone dance (other than Astaire tossing firecrackers, or barging into a “hep cat” saloon for an encounter with a seductress), the third routine in that aforementioned “From this moment …” scene cuts the mustard.

    That girl may be no earthshaking beauty – but wow, she sure moves that dress …

    If I had seen that when I was ten, I might have formed a better opinion of the particular art in question.

  12. Cornhead Says:

    Disagree. Opening sequence to LaLa Land.

  13. DNW Says:

    Say Neo, if you actually read this and semi-seriously for a moment.

    Since you are an expert on dance, and I have become something of an inadvertent expert of the contents of Astaire films, let me ask you to comment on a segment called “I left, [or lost] my hat in Haiti” found in in one of his movies.

    What’s your professional opinion?

    I’m not sure, but he actually seem to be getting a charge out of his partner’s efforts – i.e. enjoying and pleased as punch with her work. It looks almost as if he is congratulating her at one point and urging her on.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW:

    Funny thing—before I saw your comment, I was doing some Rall surfing on YouTube and was just watching “From This Moment On.” Rall is indeed the guy who leaps onto the stage in that number—I watched that moment several times and couldn’t figure out how he did it. Maybe a little trampoline in the wings? Or did he just have springs for muscles? Amazing guy.

    I believe you’re talking next about the Bob Fosse Carol Haney routine. Haney had a sort of Carol Burnette-ish face but she was a fabulous fabulous dancer, and not only that she was an astoundingly sexy dancer in that particular scene. She is riveting and really steals it from everyone, IMHO.

    She also did the “Steam Heat” number with Fosse in “Pajama Game.” Also “Hernando’s Hideaway.”

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    Singing in the rain always wins contests.
    but there is the russel tamblyn scene in tom thumb
    the gay divorcee dance over obsticals
    the nicholas brothers split from a 10 foot height
    and bill bojangles robinson with shirley temple…

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr:

    See this for the Nicholas Brothers.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW:

    And I think Astaire was always good at interacting with his partners. He was a great dancer AND a great partner, it seems to me. In this film, Powell is supposed to be his sister, so his admiration isn’t romantic.

    By the way, Donen directed both Seven Brides and Royal Wedding, and Powell was in both, too. Not Astaire, though. I can’t quite see him as one of the seven brothers 🙂 .

  18. Rusty Says:

    My all-time favorite dance scene is from the movie “Strictly Ballroom,” where Scott and Fran are dancing backstage at a ballroom dance competition. HOT dancing!

    Rusty

  19. TCM Lover Says:

    Thanks for posting this Neo. The choreography and performance are both wonderful and make me smile.

    I was trying to think of other large group dance scenes with that combination. I’ve always loved “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins,. It has the acrobatics of the Barn Raising Dance, but lacks the grace and precision. It also used obvious special effects. Not really a competitor.

    In my opinion, the best combination of choreography and performance in a movie dance scene, at least since the Barn Raising Dance, is the “Cool” dance in West Side Story. Incredibly detailed and precise movement in a whole new genre, although lacking the acrobatics of the Barn Raising. Elliot Feld is one of the dancers.

    Lastly, I want to recommend the short Swing Dance scene in the (non-musical) movie “A League of their Own”. The dance choreography is not extraordinary but it is the most exuberant dance scene I know. A hidden gem.

    Thanks again.

    TCM Lover

  20. Sarah Rolph Says:

    The dancing is wonderful. I remember being taken to this movie as a child. My mom and grandmother were so impressed by the singing and dancing. I was extremely uncomfortable. I couldn’t get past the plot. And I found it unnerving that it was supposed to not matter because of all the great singing and dancing.

  21. Douglas Weber Says:

    Sorry, may have used a confusing word. When I said “impressed” I meant it in the sense the that British Navy used it in the early 1800’s. The Turkish plan was to find the fittest men for the army and they used the need of those men to show off as a way to find them.

  22. DNW Says:

    “I believe you’re talking next about the Bob Fosse Carol Haney routine. Haney had a sort of Carol Burnette-ish face but she was a fabulous fabulous dancer, and not only that she was an astoundingly sexy dancer in that particular scene. She is riveting and really steals it from everyone, IMHO.”

    Yeah, I looked it and her up. And she is definitely not-beautiful, but apparently at her best in that particular routine. She seems to have had a pixie face, receding chin, and overbite which could be somewhat compensated for by athletic youth and vivacity and probably make-up.

    But wiki states she died at 39 of [secondarily] alcoholism and diabetes; and most of the images of her show puffy eyes and a swollen face. She looks like a chain smoking 55 year old alcoholic in them.

    Looking up the film, she would have been 28 or 29 at the time, and looks pretty well dried out, or maybe not yet showing the effects of the alcohol around the eyes.

    When she makes that leaping move to the left foreground, up from from the knee slides, she looks like a woman fully-in-the-moment, and any pixie look disappears.

    Damn shame, alcoholism.

  23. Elaine T Says:

    thanks for posting this. I showed it to my 20s offspring who has been looking for ‘good’ dance sequences for years, and dislikes most proferred. Likes this one – it’s got that something that holds the attention. Which for said offspring is very rare – has found it in a ballet themed anime but not in actual modern ballet, although some sequences you’ve posted from older dances have met approval.
    Dancing with Stars has failed completely.

    i think it’s a sense that comes across of spontentaity as well as personal interactions on the screen. As a follower of dance have you any thoughts?

  24. DNW Says:

    “neo-neocon Says:
    December 20th, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    DNW:

    And I think Astaire was always good at interacting with his partners. He was a great dancer AND a great partner, it seems to me. In this film, Powell is supposed to be his sister, so his admiration isn’t romantic. “

    Yes, absolutely re the non-romantic per storyline.

    I may have expressed myself poorly by saying “getting a charge out of” instead of synonymously saying “getting a kick out of” her efforts.

    What I meant was that he seemed to drop out of maintaining character in those semi-distance shots to apparently signal to her that she was doing good work. She looks so earnest in her efforts, that I think it amuses Astaire to the point he’s kind of cracking up about it and almost doesn’t care if the camera catches it.

    He’s not breaking the 4th wall exactly, since it’s directed to her, but something close to it.

  25. om Says:

    Young Frankenstein – “Putting on the Ritz”

  26. Steve Says:

    I think the Nicholas Brothers, in the following video, deserve a nod. Their routine starts at 4:20. The whole video is worth watching, but the Nicholas Brothers are at their best here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQQfK8Bqkw0

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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