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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Dance Scenes in Historically-Set Movies – May – Chocolat #prairierosepubs #moviedancescenes

Join me here for a year of movie trivia fun as I post dance scenes from movies set in historical time periods. I will give a brief summary of the movie’s plot and an equally brief set-up to the scene. Each month on the second Wednesday, I will post a movie clip and link back to previous movie scene articles here on the blog.

This is the criteria by which I'm choosing movie scenes:

>In a non-musical movie, the dance scene is important to the storyline and not just visual and auditory filler.
>In a musical drama, the characters in the dance scene don’t sing to each other.
>In a musical drama, the dance scene is important to the storyline and not just visual and auditory filler.
>The historical cut-off is 1960, because that date works for me. ;-)

Side note:  The article “Classic Literature is Not Necessarily Historical Fiction” on the BookRiot website offers an interesting explanation on what constitutes historical fiction and where various historical date lines are drawn.

Onward to the May movie scene.

Name of Movie: Chocolat
Historical Time Period: 1959
Location: France
Occasion: Birthday Celebration
Type of Dance: Tango

Chocolat is a 2000 movie starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Lena Olen.

The story revolves around the arrival of Vianne Rocher who settles in a fictional French village with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. The conflict involves Vianne’s arrival at the beginning of Lent and her subsequent opening of a chocolaterie. The mayor of the town heads a community vendetta to ostracize Vianne and Anouk, because their lifestyle and beliefs differ from the community’s. When a river-traveling band of Romani set up camp near the village, Vianne, Anouk, and a handful of villagers are the only ones to welcome and accept them. The rest of the town joins together to run the Romani out of town.

Scene Set-up:

Vianne and Roux, the Romani leader, develop a mutual attraction that is clearly shown in this short dance scene. The dance occurs on a Romani boat during a birthday party for one of the village’s citizens. Roux prompts Vianne to finish cleaning up the dessert dishes later, because he wants to dance with her.

The close-up filming to focus on their expressions and the music, “Caravan”, sets a sexy mood that needs no explanation. Vianne is uncomfortable with the intimacy. She laughs nervously. Roux encourages her to just ‘be in the moment’ with him. He never takes his gaze off of her. He is gentle, patient, and encouraging, which puts her at ease. This is such an intimate dance that we feel a bit like voyeurs with how near we are to the raw emotional attraction between Vianne and Roux.

The few words and the intimate filming strategy lets us know that the unspoken attraction between Roux and Vianne is about to take a very personal turn.

Previous Months:

January – Cat Ballou
February – The King and I
March – Easy Virtue
April – Shakespeare in Love

Blogger hasn’t been playing nicely with the comment and reply feature for a long least for me. I am unable to leave comments and/or replies on the Prairie Rose Publications’ blog. Therefore, I am responding now to the commenters on my April article of the dance scene in the movie Shakespeare in Love.

C.A. Asbury wrote: Superb analysis as ever. I am so enjoying this series of posts, with your searing insight of the interplay between the dancers and the plot. And this is another winner. A wonderful movie, and expertly choreographed scene. I look forward to the next one.

My Response: Thank you. I’m glad the articles are entertaining. Shakespeare in Love is a fabulous movie in so many ways.

Lindsay Townsend wrote: Great choice, Kaye! The volta dance is superb way of showing romantic intentions, as you reveal. I remember another Volta in the film of Elizabeth as well. Thanks again for this excellent blog series.

My Response: Whew! I’m glad I was right about the dance being a volta. I’m iffy on the finer details of that particular time in history.

Renaissance Women wrote: Such a classic. Love your post on this one.

My Response: Thanks, Dori, I appreciate that.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories
writing through history one romance upon a time


  1. Love that scene, Kaye! A perfect choice. I prefer the film to the book, perhaps because it is so uplifting. I like the way Roux's hair shows what he and others are feeling in the film - wild or neat

  2. I adore that movie. You've just put me in the mood to watch it again. The dance scene was so pivotal, just as you point out, and is worthy of inclusion in your series of posts.

  3. When you have two actors who can say so much without saying anything, you have magic. This clip is magic. Thanks! Doris