by Ava Giglio ‘19
As a dancer born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ll admit my bias toward what some call the over-hyped magic of La La Land [screening at the Hop March 31 and April 2]. For the purposes of this list, I did my best (but often failed) to put that bias aside and focus on the choreography. In La La Land, choreographer Mandy Moore combines dance styles while incorporating elements inspired by the great musicals of the past. Here are, in my own personal (and not at all professional) opinion, the dance numbers of La La Land in ranked order.
5. Someone in the Crowd
I didn’t like putting this one last because I actually love the music so much, but when it comes to the choreography it’s a little underwhelming. I love the moments with the four girls on the street but I wanted more actual dancing in there. I understand Moore was working with the constraint of Emma Stone (who plays Mia) not being a trained dancer but I was looking for something a little more. A kick or turn would have elevated its position on this list, but it still earns points for the colorful coordinated twirling.
The emotional epilogue of the film isn’t centered around dancing but the choreography within it is important and entertaining. Whether it’s a large group of dancers enthusiastically moving to a tune that’s not unlike Another Day of Sun, or Mia and Sebastian waltzing amidst the stars, I was impressed with the direction Moore took with this piece. At times it had the feel of a classical dream ballet sequence, like the dream ballet in On the Town (1949), and if anything, I wanted more of those moments.
Planetarium is not a traditional song-and-dance routine (for one, there’s no singing) but the visuals and movement are absolutely stunning. Mia and Sebastian’s partner-dancing is beautiful and I was impressed with how much the actors did on their own, until it went to the silhouettes. Moore perfectly captures the feeling of dancing above the clouds and the choreography is light, airy, and elegant.
2. A Lovely Night
As a tap dancer myself, I’ll admit I was partial to the toe-tapping A Lovely Night. But the imagery, choreography and chemistry between Gosling and Stone show why this is one of the best dance performances in the film. I also really appreciated the fact that it was actually the actors dancing, which it is why it just beats out Planetarium. This choreography harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals and their show-stopping tap numbers. A Lovely Night doesn’t come close to Singin’ in the Rain’s (1952) Good Morning, but it holds its own with style, fun and an unbeatable sense of nostalgia.
1. Another Day of Sun
Straight out of the gate, La La Land immersed me with its one of a kind opening number. Another Day of Sun is a mesmerizing cacophony of music, movement and Los Angeles traffic. The colors are bright, the music is catchy and the choreography is incredible. I loved the slow build from people tapping their steering wheels to a full-on dance break in the middle of the highway. Moore’s choreography is inventive and creative, especially when coupled with the unique background. Bonus points for the dancers on the cars. La La Land may be a modern musical but Another Day of Sun feels like something from a different yet familiar time, and for that it gets top billing.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ava currently resides in Syracuse, NY. Her favorite activities include dancing, watching movies and eating popcorn. She plans to double-major in math and theater.