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High 10 Non-Musicals That includes Solo Male Dancing


Hollywood remains to be coming to grips with the male physique. The feminine physique it’s “wonderful” with, within the sense that, for generations, the cis-male-hetero “gaze” outlined a lot of what was on the display screen, which meant that overt sexuality and physique positivity belonged to the feminine type. This definitely “streamlined” the aesthetic but it surely additionally created little packing containers that gendered archetypes have been anticipated to suit into.

But by establishing expectations, it enabled filmmakers to defy them. The best reward that stodgy, sexist Hollywood ever gave us was to make us indignant sufficient to spit in its face.

We’re right here to look at the evolution of the picture of the solo male dancer as a non-musical image. These ten movies, ranked by the Flickchart World Rankings, every function some non-trivial display screen time dedicated to a person dancing alone, a picture that (given the low and scattered rankings you see right here) is an oddity, particularly compared to its feminine equal.

A few of these movies are “dance movies”; they’re “about” dance ultimately, and people are vital tales to inform — males who fly within the face of the everyday Hollywood socio-sexual “norms” and, in the Dane Prepare dinner sense, simply gotta dance. Their tales probe the interior lifetime of a person that makes use of his potential to maneuver his physique t0 music, an exercise which we “all” settle for as a matter in fact for girls, however that for males can come throughout as a G.I. Jane-level gender subversion.

In different movies, arguably the extra attention-grabbing examples, a person is immediately there on the display screen dancing. Generally for laughs, typically as a plot machine, however all the time supposed as an expression of some sturdy emotion bursting by means of partitions of determined frustration. His physique’s eruption into motion is unprimed and surprising, a non sequitur that’s in some way intensified by his gender.

In all of those circumstances we’ve got alternatives to look at the ability and strangeness of this trope, and by extension, the bizarre roles that dance performs within the gender wars and our tradition at giant.

Savion Glover in blackface dances on the stage.

World rating: 5150
Wins 37% of its matchups
608 customers have ranked it 8524 occasions
0 have it at #1
4 have it of their prime 20

Savion Glover is probably America’s biggest dwelling dancer, definitely one of the best practitioner of that loosely-defined subgenre “faucet.” His toes embody the simultaneous apogees of method and expression; his soul connects to the ache and pleasure of the fashionable expertise by the use of his (more and more area of interest) artwork type.

So of course Spike Lee goes to construct a movie round him. Who higher to articulate the Black inventive expertise? The story is a few Black community government (Damon Wayans) who makes an attempt a Producers-like coup over his white superiors by staging a Black-cast minstrel present on stay tv starring Glover’s lightning toes. He hopes that will probably be a sufficiently big failure to make his true emotions about race within the leisure trade clear.

So in fact the present is a smash hit. Within the closing calculation, Bamboozled reveals itself to be extra like a Black Community, laying naked the callow, unbridled energy of the medium by means of the rise and supreme downfall of one in every of its victims.

All through the course of the movie we’re handled to a number of Glover solo numbers, starting from the candy to the sickening, some supposed to point out how inventive expression can carry up the Black soul, some supposed to point out artwork as simply one other stick that the Man can hit with.

It’s an beautiful irony that this movie, in regards to the inequities of Black- and white-driven efficiency, would be the solely presence of Black dance in our record. All the opposite candidates of colour (that I may consider; educate me within the feedback) place too low within the Flickchart Globals to be within the prime 10. That is due (little question) to some depraved mixture of skew/bias in our person base and the truth that Black movies continuously are usually not given the identical probability to change into as nice (and thus high-ranking) as their white counterparts.

So Bamboozled should stand in for Faucet and Bojangles and Stomp the Yard and You Bought Served and all the opposite nice Black dance movies, as an indignant and exquisite testomony to the true state of issues.

Channing Tatum dancing on stage

World rating: 4841
Wins 42% of its matchups
1696 customers have ranked it 27,911 occasions
4 have it at #1
29 have it of their prime 20

Magic Mike is the type of movie that if the poster doesn’t flip you on then it turns you off. This unlucky packaging (inevitable due to the subject material) attracts consideration away from the delicate story being instructed.

Channing Tatum performs the title character, an unique dancer and total odd-job man who burns for some better objective, some alternative to attain one thing like independence and self-determination, in a life that has up to now been nothing however hustling. In contrast to so many such characters in Hollywood, it’s his very expertise on the stage that’s holding him again.

Within the second act we see him carry out a solo dance quantity on the membership “Xquisite” which transcends the naked minimal abs-and-grind that the viewers thinks they’re there for. Along with his physique he tells us about craving, and want, and frustration, and explosion, and management, all of which will be very attractive, or very unhappy.

Mike’s expertise is in an artwork type that lies on the fringes of mainstream tradition, with preconceptions and stigma hanging off it like icicles, each time he engages with a “regular.” The tragedy is that it’s his very desperation and unsatisfaction that makes him so good at it. As with an virtually similar character in The Wrestler, being good, and even nice, at one thing doesn’t imply you’re blissful.

However it’s the pleasure and enthusiasm of Tatum’s efficiency (each on and off the ground) that forestalls this from turning into a heavy soul-searcher like Wrestler, and its finest moments are when it’s simply him on the display screen doing his magical factor.

Kevin Bacon dancing

World rating: 2623
Wins 38% of its matchups
7853 customers have ranked it 70,041 occasions
7 have it at #1
88 have it of their prime 20

Maybe the last word male 80s dance film, launched the yr following Flashdance, Footloose additionally offers with dance as a metaphor for frustration, and it takes the dialogue wider to the interplay of dance with social conservatism. What does dance imply to a contemporary society? What function, if any, does it play in adolescence, sexual and gender dynamics, and the discovering of a youngster’s place in society?

Okay, it thinks it’s asking these questions, however frankly Dean Pitchford’s unfocused script doesn’t come as near offering solutions because it thinks it does. Chicago-native Ren (Kevin Bacon) strikes to SmallTown, USA the place he chafes on the city’s prohibition on consuming and dancing. So in fact he falls for the daughter of the preacher whose concept all of it was. Ariel’s father (John Lithgow) misplaced a son to drunk driving which within the distorted logic of this type of considering, implies that dancing have to be the actual downside, the true gateway drug.

Because the second act is peaking, we’re handled to a solo dance quantity by Bacon in an deserted flour mill, set to “By no means” by Shifting Photos. As he dances (considerably spastically, actually as if nobody is watching), he flashes again to his many frustrations and humiliations up to now within the movie. The implication is that dancing is how this character processes deep feelings (as a substitute of, say, Luke staring off at twin sunsets, or Batman doing CrossFit). The prohibition on dancing is prohibiting Ren from being in contact with these feelings, and thus from being totally himself.

Total the film seeks to be one other volley within the 80s’ assault in opposition to dad and mom, utilizing dance, personified by 25-year-old Bacon and his limby gesticulations, to characterize the colour and the liberty and the “life” that the youthful technology discovered so missing within the previous. ‘Twas ever thus, in fact, however the 80s definitely knew the best way to make this level with aptitude.

John Travolta on the dance floor

World rating: 2412
Wins 33% of its matchups
7708 customers have ranked it 66,462 occasions
2 have it at #1
88 have it of their prime 20

Dance operates on (not less than) two totally different ranges within the now-notorious disco melodrama Saturday Evening Fever. At one degree, it features much like the way it does in Footloose, as a visible expression of post-adolescent male frustration, an area by which a person lastly has all of the management and skill and connection that he appears to lack within the different areas of his life.

However on one other, extra sensible degree, dance represents a automobile of escape. For a number of characters, together with Tony (John Travolta), the concept of turning into, in essence, knowledgeable disco dancer, incomes cash from dance contests and discos who want flashy fellas to fill out the dance ground, looks as if a really engaging and really actual chance.

For Magic Mike, dancing was a job that occurred to align with sure skills and proclivities. For Tony, dancing was the top of what it felt prefer to be himself, and concept of turning into adequate to receives a commission for it, was actually a dream come true.

Tony’s preliminary dance in 2001 Odyssey let’s us watch as these goals and ambitions take root and flower. The whole lot else in his life (we be taught) is determined and hopeless, doomed to misfortune and victimization by the smog of male egos, together with his personal. However by means of the medium of dance, we see his real need to see one thing, and to be one thing, lovely.

billy in ballet

World rating: 2353
Wins 39% of its matchups
8842 customers have ranked it 76,653 occasions
16 have it at #1
200 have it of their prime 20

I like that the Globals put Billy Elliot proper subsequent to Saturday Evening Fever, as a result of a lot of what you’ll be able to say about dance in Billy is much like what Fever has to say: Dance as a weapon of sophistication wrestle, confusion of gender integration with inventive expression, the working lessons of two international locations ten years and an ocean aside however no higher at orienting younger males in direction of a extra significant life. And Billy Elliot takes place the identical yr as the discharge of Footloose. The entire of Western tradition was chewing on this query (and remains to be doing so, therefore this text).

Billy (Jamie Bell) is the son of a Northern coal miner who, on his strategy to a boxing class, stumbles into his future because the world’s biggest ballet dancer. In contrast to for Tony, Billy’s tradition does not embrace dance as an expression of masculinity, neither is a house life coping with the UK miner’s strike and a mentally ailing elder guardian very conducive to the pursuit of the wonderful arts.

However for Billy that is solely conceivable path ahead, and that could be a maddening thought. Because the second act peaks, as Billy’s trainer wars along with his household, Billy is pushed out into the road to bop an virtually apoplectic routine, whipsawing between primal infantile actions and refined faucet method. All the incomprehensible, atavistic socio-economic forces that torture his life get compressed and alchemized into this new ingredient.

The truth that Billy is cis-male drives the plot, however apparently, this doesn’t issue into the dancing itself. Whereas for Tony in Saturday Evening Fever dance is (amongst different issues) an expression of his sexuality, pre-pubescent Billy has no sexuality to precise, nor actually something that may be known as typical “masculinity.” He dances despite his maleness, not accepting or rejecting it, however as a substitute instinctively looking for a 3rd method, an expression of feeling that’s unfettered by the gender bullshit that grips so many in society round him.

napoleon dancing

World rating: 1683
Wins 4% of its matchups
86,255 customers have ranked it 640,828 occasions
434 have it at #1
9,489 have it of their prime 20

The movie’s tag line is “He’s out to show that he’s acquired nothing to show,” and it’s in that uncanny valley between delight and disgrace the place Napoleon’s climactic dance lives.

Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) does his finest to navigate the intersecting energy fields of highschool, however even he can see that he’s not profitable on the sport that everybody appears to be taking part in. The hero’s journey on this movie is him looking for a sport that he can win, and he lastly finds it with the assistance of his equally outcast good friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez). Collectively they be taught that by working collectively they will carry one another up, to be taught to reach their very own eyes not less than and to know that that’s sufficient.

And so when he learns that Pedro should current a “skit” as a part of his marketing campaign to change into class president, Napoleon sees that he should fall on yet one more grenade of public humiliation. Fortuitously, for maybe the primary time in his life, probability has given him assist as a substitute of hindrance: D-Qwon’s thrift-store tutorial dance tape has given him the basics and his brother’s girlfriend’s cousin simply occurs to be Jamiroquai.

These substances mix with Napoleon’s nothing-left-to-lose dedication to this valuable friendship, leading to a solo dance efficiency that fully wins over the scholar physique. They lastly see, as we do, that there isn’t any better achievement than audacious creativity within the face of unattainable odds.

tom cruise air guitar

World rating: 1615
Wins 41% of its matchups
9168 customers have ranked it 84,242 occasions
4 have it at #1
85 have it of their prime 20

The underside 5 movies on this record function dancing performed by characters for whom dancing has been established as a personality trait. The dancing performed on display screen is in some way contributive to a dance-oriented plot.

However beginning with Napoleon Dynamite we’ve got entered right into a a lot weirder realm, the place the act of a male character immediately beginning to dance has been weaponized right into a metaphor-laden non-sequitur. We should wrestle to parse why this factor is going on on the display screen; what potential “objective”, dramatically, may it serve?

Within the case of the basic 80s intercourse comedy Dangerous Enterprise, when Joel (Tom Cruise) dances within the first act, the purpose being made is about him breaking out from a shell. He sheds the garments of his sheltered, conservative, high-achieving life, and he tries on, innocently at first, what he imagines the lifetime of a free and impartial grownup have to be like. As a result of the last word fable of the 80s was that quote-unquote typical achievement and a quote-unquote good time have been mutually unique.

Joel’s dance indicators to us that the message of the film will likely be a reinforcement of this fable. His first style of “freedom”, that’s, disconnection from the conventional modes of Western conduct, turns into synonymous with the primal urge to have a good time with music and dance.

Joel is definitely appropriate that being an grownup includes loads (a lot) of dancing in your underwear, however what’s extra vital that the constancy of his creativeness is the movie’s selection to make use of dance as a non-verbal signifier of a really particular worldview, one that can drive the plot of this movie in addition to a whole decade.

pee wee on the bar

Launched the identical years as Again to the Future, this legendary Tim BurtonPaul Reubens collaboration gives an attention-grabbing counterpoint vis-a-vis dance to that movie, in addition to its picaresque future-echo Napoleon Dynamite.

In Large Journey, Pee-wee occurs right into a desert biker bar to make use of the cellphone and, wouldn’t you already know it, makes faux-pas after faux-pas. The bikers determine that an academic beat-down is so as (culminating in a menace of pseudo-sexual violence from none aside from Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson).

However Pee-wee appeals to playground guidelines of engagement, and along with his “final request” proceeds to carry out the apotheosis of the “non sequitur dance break.” Whereas Marty cavorts on stage in celebration, Pee-wee dances to save lots of his life. However he doesn’t dance in concern; like Napoleon, it’s Pee-wee’s (obvious) fearlessness that wins over his viewers.

Pee-wee’s choreography is bizarre, childish, and a little bit disturbing at occasions (is he repeatedly pointing at his penis and anus?). However he appears to know precisely what he’s doing. He has (we think about) practiced this very routine in his room leaping on his mattress, maybe with a blanket-cape tied round his neck.

And, simply as for Napoleon, all of it pays off. The Pee-wee universe obeys the legal guidelines {that a} youngster thinks ought to be how the world works. And so in fact, dazzling dance strikes are ample to quell any interpersonal dispute.

Whether or not Napoleon’s universe behaves the identical method is up for debate. Napoleon is an unreliable narrator; the occasions on the display screen typically characterize what ought to have occurred as a substitute of what really did. That’s, whereas Pee-wee inhabits a completely fantastical universe which he occurs to suit completely into, Napoleon lives in our world, however places his goals of a greater one on the display screen.

Crucially, in each situations, there’s something magical a few man-child’s dance in a demanding second, one thing that appears to carry the ability to resolve the unresolvable and obtain the unattainable.

hugh grant dancing

World rating: 1284
Wins 46% of its matchups
51,753 customers have ranked it 423,302 occasions
272 have it at #1
4683 have it of their prime 20

Whereas our #3 decide echoed our #5, #2 echoes #4.

Hugh Grant performs David, the Prime Minister of the UK, who, after a tough day in Quantity 10, turns up the Pointer Sisters’ “Leap” and cuts unfastened with a boyishly exuberant dance like we might solely anticipate from Hugh Grant. Reportedly, the scene so cringified Grant that he refused to rehearse it, and what director Richard Curtis acquired on movie was Grant leaping in with each toes. The sense of abandon and eliminating of rational thought comes by means of in each body.

Similar to Joel in Dangerous Enterprise, David, having simply been elected, is experimenting with life in a brand new social function. Like Joel, he dances as a strategy to really feel his entire physique being on this place on this second. What at first look looks as if “childishness” is just a primal response to huge shifts in social and emotional forces. Like Joel, David wears an unbuttoned costume shirt and dances to ubiquitous music of no clear diegetic supply.

These males are dancing as a present of resistance to the constricted modes of life they’re used to. They dance to remind themselves that they’re nonetheless their very own males.

joker in the bathroom

World rating: 1065
Wins 59% of its matchups
3098 customers have ranked it 57,875 occasions
73 have it at #1
376 have it of their prime 20

All through all of his varied media appearances, it’s the horror of the Joker character to pervert something that ought to be joyful into a side of dying. The clown’s painted options change into markers for insanity. Brightly coloured garments, on him appear to be a toxic butterfly’s dire warning. Laughter turns into a factor to be feared as a substitute of desired.

So it’s no shock that he finds a strategy to twist dance into yet one more expression of the alternative of what it’s imagined to. The Joker is a personality who could be very a lot “in his physique”; in all his incarnations, he tends to be persistently portrayed as an individual who actually is aware of the best way to personal the area. He’s a gallavanter, a cavorter, a full-body gesturer; half harlequin, half pixie, half reaper dancing the Danse Macabre.

That is the right movie to wind up on the prime of our record as a result of it options a number of totally different modes of dance already mentioned. We see Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) dance a number of occasions: a number of occasions within the Bamboozled mode, as a part of the craft of an entertainer; most famously in fact down the Bronx Highbridge steps, a one-man celebration of (what seems like on the time) self-actualization, which could be very a lot within the Love Truly vein.

However the movie’s most exceptional dance is within the parks-and-rec public restroom, after Arthur (who has not but totally change into “Joker”) commits his first murders. Accompanied solely by Hildur Guðnadóttir’s flippantly orchestrated aria for solo cello (the cello makes use of solely two notes all through), we see our “hero”, lastly, after a lot ache and humiliation and misfortune, expertise one thing like peace.

However not simply peace. “Peace” is a nonetheless factor, a neutralization of forces. Arthur feels one thing that makes him need to transfer his physique, to do one thing to luxuriate in that second, to discover a strategy to take pleasure from the expertise of being himself.

And all this price was three human lives. Arthur’s dance communicates, so a lot better than in phrases, that he’ll do no matter is critical, pay no matter price, to really feel like this once more.

In a way, that is the Footloose mode; Arthur’s emotions are too profound for phrases. However whereas Ren danced within the flour mill out of frustration, Arthur dances in realization, a full-body “Oh hi there there, I by no means thought I’d discover you”.


All these males on this record are realizing one thing, and serving to us notice it. Via the medium of dance they discover ways to transcend the rational packing containers of society and gender and mental expression, and these movies are those courageous sufficient to present them the body alone as they accomplish that.



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