Dance Fever: A Look At The Current Dance Craze in America

By Jon Minners

I like to consider myself to be a heterosexual man, but there I was sitting on a Wednesday night, with my girlfriend, mind you, watching several men dance in tights or in formal wear or even with their shirts open, to the waltz or any other fruity style dance during the hit summer reality television show So You Think You Can Dance

Now, I would have you know that I find a lot of the dances boring outside of Hip Hop, Crunk or Pop and I really donít watch to see the guys perform.  I actually enjoy watching the women dance and I would hope that actually makes my girlfriend happy, but I have to admit, I was cheering two of the guys this year, along with several of the girls.  I so wanted Ivan to beat out Guile from Street Fighter, but I was so happy when the favorite, and very likeable Benji won the whole competition and got to dance in the sure to be manly Celine Dion Las Vegas show.  Poor guy. 

But the point of this is, I enjoyed it last year, because I love the choreographed Hip Hop, but this year, the show took on a life of its own and it didnít matter if they danced to Hip Hop or not; just as long as the characters were fun and the choreography was tight.  I found myself really enjoying the series and looking forward to it each week without feeling slightly queer.  And guess what; I was not the only one.  Like the old days of Solid Gold and Dance Fever, So You Think You Can Dance is the summer hit; the kind that American Idol is in the fall.  And when you add in the popularity of Dancing With The Stars, even more so, because a wrestler was involved, dance is hot, real hot and no one has to be ashamed to show their love for it.  

And there are movies, too:

I went to see Take the Lead because of the Hip Hop overtones.  I actually donít really like Antonio Banderas, but he seemed pretty cool in the lead role as Pierre Dulaine, a New York City ballroom dancer who ends up teaching inner city youth the refined art of dancing that is not shown in a Chingy video.  In addition, the characters were hot in the MTV generation sort of way, plus, one of the characters from Degrassi: The Next Generation played a role in the film. 

The film itself plays like any other school movie, such as Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me and Stand and Deliver along with sports films where the team evolves into great masters of their craft.  But this formula had already proven to be a big hit.  Dulaine was the subject of a red hot documentary Mad Hot Ballroom.  Yes, it is a true story, albeit the students have been aged to give angst ridden teens something to enjoy and relate to. 

Like similar films, the characters act all hard, believing the dance styles this out of his element teacher is trying to impress on them are whack and not worth their time.  But there is nothing else to do in detention and when Hip Hop gets fused into the ballroom mix, the students suddenly start to believe that they can achieve in something other than getting in trouble on the streets.  Their overall attitude improves until their dreams are almost dashed, revived and suddenly come to fruition in a creative and inspiring dance number at the end. 

The two leads are Rock (played by Rob Brown, Coach Carter) and Lahrette (former America's Next Top Model contestant YaYa DaCosta).  Rock is a troubled kid who is mixed up in too much drama while I never truly understood why Lahrette was even in detention.  However, the two characters mesh so well together.  They are enjoyable to watch and their storyline, while convoluted and complex, ends up being heartwarming in the end.  But they were not the hottest couple in the film. 

The hot number at the end was performed by a trio; Sasha, played by Jenna Dewan; Ramos, played by Dante Basco and Danjou, played by Elijah Kelly.  The choreography in this scene made dancing so sexy and made you just want to grab a girl, my girl of course, and just make the audience sweat at your magnificence. 

Even Antonio Banderas stood tall playing the charming Dulaine.  He brings the film together and adds that level of credibility that makes this not just an MTV generation movie, but one worth buying and enjoying over and over again. 

Step Up is such an MTV type film, but on my birthday, I needed to see this movie.  The characters were sexy and the dance moves were hot.  Finally, real Hip Hop dancing; not that watered down nonsense we saw in the still highly entertaining Save the Last Dance.  I was excited about the movie.  Constant Myspace hype didnít hurt. 

The movie follows Tyler, played by Channing Tatum, a young thug who vandalizes a preppy art school and must pay for it by working as a janitor in the same school he destroyed.  Not knowing the severity of his crime, Tyler soon learns that his damage took away a potential scholarship for a child.  We soon learn that Tyler is a good hearted teen, stuck in the foster system with foster siblings he loves, but a family that doesnít provide him direction.  Instead, he learns from his friends and his surroundings, but he soon learns that Hip Hop doesnít mean street thug and he learns to apply his craft at the school working with a student on her big routine that could land her a career in dance. 

Nora is that student.  She is played by Jenna Dewan, who once again shows her dancing skills in this film.  Letís just hope she doesnít get type cast.  Still, Nora, like Tyler is a very likeable character, whose partner injures himself just before their big showcase.  Needing a dance partner, Nora turns to Tyler, who she witnesses dancing on the streets, in hopes of helping her land the big role after school.  The two end up teaching each other, which is like Save the Last Dance times two and develop a relationship as Tyler helps her choreograph a big number fusing Hip Hop with ballet and other types of dance.  

Mario plays a DJ who is in love with Noraís friend, played by Drew Sidora.  She has a very sexy look, great style and killer pipes.  This girl can sing and together with Mario, they pull off an awesome performance that also showcases the dance moves of Tyler and Nora in a more Hip Hop/Jazz setting.  They added to the cutesy factor of the movie. 

Overall, this is a paint by numbers film.  The usual drama happens and threatens to ruin the happy ending.  And it is predictable in nature, but when you have so many cool characters, some things just donít matter.  Were you bored?  Nope.  Did you find yourself wanting to break out of your seat and bust some moves?  Yes.  Did your head nod to the Hip Hop beat?  Oh, yes!  Did you find yourself smiling by the end of the film?  Most definitely.  Sometimes, some movies are just so much fun, nothing else matters and Step Up was the right move for the So You Think You Can Dance generation. 

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