While working through revisiting some of my most favorite period dramas, I’ve been reminded that one of the best assets of period dramas is the wonder known as the first dance. So much can happen in the space of a first dance. It’s not only a blank masterpiece where a director can produce some of the most beautiful moving symphony of pictures (without actually having to say a thing); it’s also an elegant solution to craft old-fashioned romance.
Productions that benefit the most from this kind of filming are period films though there are some stunning contemporary dance scenes as well. Today, I’d like to look back at some of my personal favorite “first dance” scenes, primarily from the period drama appeal with one or two contemporary scenes thrown in (because they are that sweet and memorable).
12 Memorable First Dances
#1. Cinderella (2015)
“Believe me, they’re all looking at you.”
Colorful, classy and magical, in every sense of the word, is what this first dance is made of.
#2. Emma (2009)
“Who will you dance with?”
“With you if you will ask me.”
Of all of the many adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma has seen, I do believe the 2009 BBC miniseries’ includes my favorite dance scene between Emma and Mr. Knightley.
The only thing that was a letdown about this scene was Giselle’s dress. I understand the need for costume designers to tame her look after all of the tulle creations she’d worn prior, but still, I think they could have found something with more personality. That being said, the dance (and that music!), the swoons and eye lock was gorgeous.
#4. Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
This is an emotional dance to be sure; perhaps the most emotional on this list. It’s an important moment for the characters and the audience which is what makes the quietness of it so captivating.
#5. First Daughter
It may be contemporary cinema, but this Katie Holmes film knows how to create a classy and sweet romantic dance.
#6. The Four Feathers
The way this scene was filmed was breathtaking; it’s elegant with its sea of red uniforms forming a square around the couple yet lighthearted in the way Esme and Harry playfully perform their dance of honor.
#7. Mansfield Park (1999)
Yes, I realize Fanny Price is a little bit tipsy during this scene not to mention the dance being primarily with the cad known as Henry Crawford, but she does spend some of the dance with Edmund, and let me tell you, it’s glorious!
#8. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Passion fueled, to say the least! I adore this interpretation of Lizzie and Darcy’s first dance! Not only is the acting sensational, the fading away of all the other couples is to be commended on the part of the filmmakers in the editing room.
#9. Return to Cranford
This could perhaps be the least popular or forgotten dance on this list, but I find it simply put, charming. Plus, it helps that I shipped this pairing, and there’s Tom Hiddleston (in the role of a gentleman no less!).
#10. The Sound of Music
One word for this sweetheart of a dance: classic!
Sweet and charming, this scene is all too short in my opinion. It features Cap. Shakespeare teaching Yvaine how to dance, and though it has no romantic connotation but rather a protective one, her subsequent twirl with the hero, Tristian certainly does!
TIE #12. War and Peace (2007)
Full of innocence and charm, this scene is a lovely glimpse at Natasha’s infatuation with Andrei.
TIE #12. War and Peace (2016)
Where the 2007 adaptation took on more of a whimsical approach (because of Natasha’s character), Andrew Davies went for subtly sensual and dreamy. Everything about this scene is a masterful bit of television perfection.
What “first dance” (or any dance) scenes do you like from cinema or television? Why are they memorable? Comment down below with your thoughts! I’d love to read them.