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Stage Dance and Screen Dance

Dance is a performing art that has aesthetic and symbolic value. The art is appreciated by

both performers and observers of a specific culture. Dancing is usually categorized and described

according to its repertoire of movements, choreography, or by the conveying medium. By

medium, dance can fall under screen dance or stage dance. Typically, dances made for film,

television, and videos are categorized as screen dance while dances performed live especially in

theatres are known as stage dance. There are many differences between the two categories of

dance which will be discussed later on the paper. The dance industry has experienced significant

changes for the past centuries owing from technological advancements and contribution of

veteran dance practitioners. This paper will thus focus also on several practitioners who have

inspired the dance industry especially the screen dance.

Majority of screen dancers start as stage dancers and translated their knowledge into the

world of films. Despite the relationship between the two, there are vital differences that define

them individually. One significant difference is the environmental setting and process of

preparation. Stage dances are well-nurtured arts since theatre productions have adequate

practitioner bonding and rehearsal time. Stage dancers are familiar with their craft and role as

they familiarize with training sessions and recurrent public performances. Screen dance sets, on

the other hand, are in some way chaotic and are packed with highly paid practitioners. The
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setting of a screen dance is challenging especially to dancers who do not have experience. For

one, they receive little to no rehearsal time and may even fail to gain any directions due to the

size of the roles they play. Most of the times the film directors hire dancers on the assumption

that they will attend to the scene performance ready. In general, stage dances can be said to

contain a certain level of authenticity that screen dances do not.

Despite the challenges that screen dance has experienced, it has indeed evolved. It is

currently in the top position due to its ability to reach a wider audience. Various people have

inspired changes in the screen dance scene, for instance, Gene Kelly who was renowned for his

enthusiastic and agile dancing style. His innovations sparked many innovations that transformed

the Hollywood musical. One of the significant influence of Kelly is the use of split screens. Kelly

was the earliest screen choreographer to utilize split screens, dual images, and live action with

animations that have been used up-to-date. His works involved experimenting with different

special effects to achieve a real integration of dance with film (Genné, pg. 103). He is recognized

for making dance commercially viable to movie audiences. Kelly also pushed for male

choreographers. According to his opinion, dancing was a man’s game. During that era, most of

the dance teachers were women. He thus aired a TV program known as “Dancing: A Man’s

Game” in 1985 that encouraged men to engage in dancing and in an agile way (Yudkoff, pg.


Besides Kelly, Busby Berkeley also initiated influence on the screen dance. Berkeley was

a film director and a choreographer. In his works, he incorporated the use of intricate musical

creation numbers that utilized intricate geometric patterns. Berkeley is among choreographers

who popularized the use of vast amounts of showgirls and props as creative features in screen
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dances (Spivak, pg. 199). He also pushed for dance tours as he toured colleges which have

become popular in the modern day.

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Works Cited
Genné, Beth. "Dancin’in the Rain: Gene Kelly’s Musical Films." Envisioning Dance on Film

and Video. Routledge, 2013. 103-109.

Spivak, Jeffrey. Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley. University Press of Kentucky, 2010.

Yudkoff, Alvin. Gene Kelly: A life of dance and dreams. Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001.