Girl: I'm rich and you're poor, but let's dance together!Some media works feature people dancing. This makes a whole lot of sense when the scene is set in a nightclub, a prom, or even a concert. Other times, however, there is an elaborate plot going on upon which the story is concentrating, and there's no time for frivolity because serious business is afoot. And yet dancing has been shoved in there somewhere, even when it feels (or at least should feel) out of place. Very common in music videos and in films that are about dancing. And naturally, this trope does not apply if the work is a musical. Naturally a Sub-Trope of Serious Business. May feature an Angry Dance.
Guy: Society won't like it.
Girl: [grabbing him dramatically] I don't care!
Guy: Society won't like it.
Girl: [grabbing him dramatically] I don't care!
— Family Guy (parodying this trope)
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Brave10, for the fourth of the Ueda Castle 10 Matches, reputed shrine maidens Isanami and Izumo no Okuni get into a dance-off before their fight as Isanami is absolutely determined to prove the latter is a pretender to the Izumo name.
- Princess Tutu is made of this. Angry wili ghosts trying to take your boyfriend with them into death? Monster crows trying to destroy the city? Helpless baby birds falling out of their nests? Then it's time to dance your goddamn heart out.
- Cinderella's salvation more or less comes from dancing at a ball.
Films — Animation
- Happy Feet pegs the survival of every Emperor Penguin on Earth on the penguin's ability to impress humans with their tap-dancing skills.
Films — Live-Action
- In the middle of Footloose, Ren McCormick invades a train-yard just so he can work his dancing Angst out. And impress the girl, apparently.
- Parodied on Flight of the Conchords with "Bret's Angry Dance." When the band breaks up, the only way to vent his frustrations is by dancing masculinely in a warehouse. Unlike Bacon, Bret McKenzie is a trained dancer, so he did the heavy lifting and heavier dancing himself.
- Also parodied in Hot Rod, although it's in a forest and the dancing...isn't that great.
- Also parodied in Rick and Morty by Gazorpazorp
- In Dirty Dancing, much more is riding on Baby learning to dance than Johnny not being able to do a dance exhibition at another resort and thus suffering professional embarrassment.
- C Me Dance is about a girl whose faith in God is apparently dependent on her ability to dance. When she can't dance due to some rare blood disease, she loses faith. Her father prays that she returns to Christianity and regains the strength to fulfill her dream of dancing. God apparently not only obliges by making her better, He makes her gift of dance so great that people who see her dance apparently have religious epiphanies and convert to Christianity instantly! Satan, upset by her ability to bring people to God that easily, then aims all his evil energy at preventing her from dancing. It should be noted that this film is not a parody or a comedy; they were trying to be serious. Quite clearly, Dancing Is Serious Business.
- Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to this trope by having everyone treat a professional dancing competition with the same level of seriousness most people reserve for wars, deaths in the family, and epidemics.
- In Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero (played by John Travolta) basically pins his entire future on winning a dance contest. Justified as Tony is from a poor, slightly abusive family, is stuck in a dead-end job, and is affected by gang violence. He has nothing else to enjoy and pin his hopes on but dancing.
- Flash Dance has Alex (played by Jennifer Beals) pining her own entire future on her audition for the Pittsburgh Conservatory.
- The movie Breakin featured the classic "pinning of all hopes and dreams on a dance routine," but its strangely-titled sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo ratcheted up the crazy by not only using breakdancing as a means to save the perpetually-imperiled youth center, but also as a form of combat. No, not like a Dance Battler, but rather two teams of enemies facing off, breakdancing, and then deciding —as a group— who won the battle. What, do you think we're kidding?
- There was a rash of these in the '00s: Take the Lead and the Disney Channel movie Gotta Kick It Up! were Save Our Students stories; You Got Served, the Step Up movies and Save the Last Dance all involved gang violence wherein somebody got shot; Stomp the Yard (which also started with a murder) and How She Move had pulling-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-and-the-magic-of-dance plots. In 2009 The Wayans brothers made a parody movie for MTV called Dance Flick.
- Billy Elliot qualifies as this at the point where the striking miner father almost becomes a scab for the money to send Billy to ballet school so the kid can have a better chance at life.
- They Shoot Horses, Don't They?? is a Deconstruction based on actual exploitative dance contests during the Great Depression.
- The documentary Pina is about the late choreographer, Pina Bausch, and her dancers speak about her in awe as an artist the way a sculptor would speak about Michelangelo as they perform the dances she developed.
- Another Cinderella Story. It's a modern version of Cinderella (see above), so it actually makes sense to be about a dancer.
- In 1940 movie The Mark of Zorro the elaborate and energetic dance of Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) and Lolita Quintero (Linda Darnell) brings the two lovebirds closer together.
- As does the (far too sensuous for the time it is set in) dance of Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones in The Mask of Zorro.
- In Never Say Never Again, James Bond (Sean Connery) turns Domino (Kim Basinger) away from Emilio Largo in an elaborate tango. The right to which he won by defeating Largo in a game.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, with the fate of an entire planet at stake, Quill challenges Ronan the Accusser to a dance-off. It is a distraction. Ronan is extremely confused and temporarily stops his attempt to destroy the planet while he tries to figure out what is going on. This give Rocket time to fix his BFG and destroy the source of Ronan's power.
- What Bunheads is all about
- As is Flesh and Bone.
- The Doctor Who episode named, appropriately, The Doctor Dances. In this case, the dancing subplot seems to be a veiled reference to sexuality.
- Cited in the Cold Case episode "Shuffle, Ball Change'', about the murder of a young man who aspired to be a dancer. When Vera makes disparaging remarks about the profession to one of the suspects (the kid's rival), the guy hits back with a blistering description of how difficult dance is and the commitment it requires. Later, when they are interviewing another suspect (the kid's teacher), he gives a similar speech and a flashback shows that he gave yet another similar speech to the kid himself.
- Home Improvement. After Tim takes one of the boys to both the ballet and a basketball game, he later admits to Jill that he was genuinely impressed by the skill and athleticism demonstrated by the dancers.
- Men Without Hats's "Safety Dance":
We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well, they're no friends of mine
- "Do the Strand", from Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure:
There's a new sensation
A fabulous creation
A danceable solution
To teenage revolution
- The Beatles: "Little Child"
Little child, little child won't you dance with me?
- Michael Jackson was the king of this trope. It started when he was still a part of The Jackson Five with songs like "Dancing Machine", "Blame It On The Boogie" and "Shake Your Body Down To The Ground" and went on as an adult superstar on Off the Wall with tracks like "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough", "Off The Wall" and "Burn This Disco Out". You might think a Zombie Apocalypse horror movie might be the wrong time to suddenly break out into dance, but somehow he made it work in "Thriller". In "Beat It," he actually puts a stop to a gang-war through the power of dance. Think that's enough? The film for "Smooth Criminal" boasted fantastic cinematography that accentuated the dancing to the max.
- The video for Katy Perry's "Hot & Cold" features her as a bride at the altar, where the groom hesitates before saying "I do." She, and some other spurned brides, arm themselves with baseball bats, corner him... and then break into dance.
- Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield." Pat and the other taxi-dancers horse the sleazy pimp-like Guido who runs the dance hall to back off through the power of dance. Or something...
- The video for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's "Murder On The Dance-Floor'' involves a dancing contest with an unscrupulously competitive contestant.
- The video for "Helena" by My Chemical Romance begins with mourners filling a church for a funeral and then dancing around the coffin. At the bridge, they all bow their heads in prayer and the corpse gets up and does a ballet dance through the center aisle.
- The video for "Dark Blue" by Jacks Mannequin features a dance marathon. It lasts over 47 days before couple 55 loses. And then they jump off the pier.
- ECW had a lot of dancing. The 1998 feud between the team of The Blue Meanie/Super Nova vs. the FBI (Tracy Smothers, Little Guido Maritato and "The Big Don" Tommy Rich) was centered around it. A typical match between the two teams would start like this: Smothers would "dance" poorly and get booed. Meanie would dance and get cheered. Repeat until the FBI attacks.
- After the Meanie surprised everyone by defeating Jason "The Sexiest Man on Earth" at ECW Ultimate Jeopardy 97, "YMCA" started playing and the whole ECW Arena crowd, notorious for being tough to please, did the "YMCA" dance along with Meanie and Nova.
- CHIKARA. Dance-offs between wrestlers could break out in the middle of matches, often started by the Osirian Portal. Sometimes it wasn't even to see who was better, it was just for fun.
- At CZW Last Team Standing 2006 the crowd demanded to see a dance of between Claudio Castagnoli and Human Tornado when Castagnoli and Chris Hero took on Tornado and Ruckus.
- Before she managed to score victory in WSU, it was suggested Athena hadn't won yet because she wasn't doing spinaroonies like her school's namesake.
- At the unauthorized ROH A Night Of Hoopla, Davey Richards expressed his frustration with a "pants off dance off" being held between the "Hoopla Hotties" Scarlet Bordeaux, Seleziya Sparx and Val Malone, taking about the promotion's efforts to present a quality wrestling product, before concluding the only proper way to defend the honor of all the great wrestlers that came before him was to enter the contest himself and out dance the House Of Truth's minions while leaving his pants on!
- Shane Strickland vs ACH at the International Wrestling Cartel. More people seem to remember their dance off than any match they had.
- Spokane area radio personalities C. Foster Kane and Jim Arnold (the "Radio Men") often reduce summaries of upcoming movies to the conflict being resolved via a "secret underground dance competition".
- Pretty much every musical that isn't a comedy is made of this trope. West Side Story is a notable example. The gang-rumble at the center of the show is either a well-choreographed but very stylized knife fight that involves dancing, or else a well-choreographed but very stylized dance-off that involves knives.
- Forgotten Realms has the spelldancers, who use dance-based magic rituals. In the 2nd Edition AD&D version, they are variant wizards unable to use Invocation/Evocation or Necromancy spells, but who are not bound by the Vancian rules that control all other magic in D&D. (This means such characters aren't much use in a dungeon crawl, but otherwise tend to be overpowered). In 3rd Edition, any spellcaster (arcane or divine) can become one, and they only use the dance to amplify the spells they can cast normally.
- Warhammer Fantasy battles have Woodelf Wardancers.
- Warhammer 40,000 has Eldar Harlequins that use acrobatic dances amplified by mystical technology. They use this during wars as well.
- Ghost Trick:
- When trouble strikes (such as a prisonwide blackout), prison guard Bailey is compelled to do the Panic Dance as passed down in his family for generations. Why? Because someone has to.
- Inspector Cabanela also has a fondness for dancing everywhere, including up and down stairs. One of the officers is shown in the credits trying to copy that dance, in an attempt to get his power.
- Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and its American counterpart Elite Beat Agents. In EBA, only dancing can cure a sick athelete and stop an alien invasion.
- Space Channel 5 is all about a reporter fighting aliens with the power of dance. In fact, the entire galaxy is powered by dance.
- In Brain Dead 13, Lance has to do this to "stay alive" while dodging a hail of bullets that Trigger Happy Fritz shoots at both our hero and Neurosis. And it all takes place entirely in the darkness, where the only tiny pillars of light are used as a disco dance floor.
- Exaggerated in one of the Alternate Universes in Portal 2's Perpetual Testing Initiative, where the law apparently mandates dancing constantly.
- South Park parodied this in 'You got F'd in the A!'
- Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch that was a pastiche of "dance movies".
WE DRESS LIKE THUGS BUT WE KEEPING IT CLEAN
YOUNG BLACK PEOPLE ON A RHYTHM TEAM!
- The We Bare Bears short "Panda's Dream" features a series of increasingly bizarre daydreams by Panda about dealing with a guy who cut in line at the game store, which culminates in a K-Pop dance-off.
- In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Party Animal", Emperor Awesome tries to literally party a planet to pieces, but gives up on his scheme when he's bested in a dance-off by Wander.
- Many cultures' ritual dances were this because they were, well, ritual dances. To make a mistake was to show disrespect, incur the wrath of The Powers That Be, etc.
- This is why, for example, novice hula dancers were secluded until they learned the moves correctly and could perform the ritual dances perfectly.
- In a modern version, the New Zealand national rugby team performs a Maori haka dance before each of their games. Don't tell them that they look silly. Also, because it looks as intimidating as hell.
- The Fiji and Samoan teams also have their own, based on their respective tribal dances: the Cibi and the Siva Tau respectively. See this video for a comparison of the three.
- During the 2005 Lions tour, Brian O'Driscoll was believed to have disrespected the haka by picking up a blade of grass and throwing it away. He was spear tackled in the 90 seconds of play, rushed to hospital with a dislocated shoulder, and didn't play again for five months. Much controversy ensued in rugby circles, but suffice it to say that the haka is taken very seriously.
- Male animals (such as certain birds) that use a mating dance to woo a female. She's judging the way he dances; if he does it right, she will allow him to mate with her. But if she doesn't like what she sees (for whatever reason), she will judge him as unsuitable. In certain species of spiders, failing to dance impressively enough is grounds for being eaten by the female.
- The Wagah border ceremony on the India/Pakistan border is a daily military practice which involves dance-like aggressive walks from both sides, almost like a dance battle. It was so aggressive that in 2010 Major General Yaqub Ali Khan of the Pakistan Rangers decided that the aggressive aspect of the ceremonial theatrics should be toned down. It was described by Michael Palin as "carefully choreographed contempt."
- After a terrible Philadelphia Eagles game, a Facebook member snidely commented that "the Eagles played like they were wearing tutus." Incensed at this, a member of the Pennsylvania Ballet offered up a blistering editorial that described how difficult the life of a ballerina was and suggested that the comment was an insult to the dancers rather than the football players, capping it off with this gem: "So no, the Eagles have not played like they were wearing tutus. If they had, Chip Kelly would still be a head coach and we'd all be looking forward to the playoffs.
- The Norwegian folk dance movement is rigidly working for the preservation of the "correct" traditional dance modes, including details like when and where to "bounce" in a 3/4 dance (often called a "springar" or "pols"). Woe betide those who screw this up. The fact that the dancers enter a number of contests each year, may heaten this tension many notches. To list a couple of examples: Early in The New '10s, a fist fight nearly broke out over which dancer should have won the traditional male dance "halling". In 1992, an entire valley ended up in a severe Flame War over how to dance the 3/4 dance correctly. It involved, among other things, exclusion, threatening letters, a lot of mental bruises and a number of performers just up and quitting for years. Norwegian folk dancing is definitely serious business.