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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Dance Scenes in Historically-Set Movies – June – Beauty and the Beast #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 June movie scene.

Name of Movie: Beauty and the Beast
Historical Time Period:
Location: France
Occasion/Purpose: relationship development
Type of Dance: Ballroom Waltz

Previous Months:

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

Beauty and the Beast is a fairytale written and published c.1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Billeneuve. Her story was then abridged, rewritten, and published in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, which has come down through the years as the most familiar version. The story has undergone many iterations on film and television, on stage, and in written form.

For this article, I’m commenting about the ballroom waltz (Tale as Old as Time) in the 1991 Disney animated movie and in the 2017 live-action movie.

It is generally accepted that the waltz scene is the defining moment when Belle and Beast realize their mutual love. I disagree.

I believe it was love at first sight for Beast, when Belle took her father's place in the dungeon. While Belle has grown fonder of Beast as the story unfolds, even at the end of the dance, she hasn’t fallen in love with him. That moment occurs right after the dance when Beast gives her the magic mirror and tells her to go back to her father.

Well, then, if not for the purpose of having Belle and Beast realize their mutual love, what does the dance scene accomplish for me?

Dance scenes offer the opportunity for intimacy—hands touching, gazes meeting, bodies brushing against each other. Belle's and Beast's physical closeness enhances the trust they’ve  been establishing. There is respect and gentleness in their expressions and movements. They clearly enjoy being with, and near, each other. The dance scene is lovely. It illustrates the progression Belle and Beast have made toward mutual love.

Most importantly, the dance is the metaphor of breaking through the barrier of Beast’s animalistic physical appearance. Belle has accepted him for who he is. Beast not only realizes this, he’s humbled and appreciative. If he wasn’t completely in love with Belle at this point, he is now.

In the animated movie dance scene, Beast finds himself filled with trepidation and uncertainty as he stands in the center of the ballroom. Belle offers her hands for him to take, and he’s surprised, taken aback. Belle maintains an innocence throughout the dance. We see gentle smile and soft gleam in her eyes when she looks at Beast. For his part, Beast gains confidence in his dancing and in the acceptance he feels from Belle.

In the live-action dance scene, when Beast gives the ballroom a once-over, we get the sense of him recalling all the parties and dances he used to attend in this ballroom. There’s a hint of regret and remorse in his sigh and shoulder-drop. Belle holds out her hands. This Beast is more confident than animated Beast when he takes hold of Belle’s hands. Belle is also more confident in herself. Live-action Belle does not exude the innocence of animated Belle. Belle’s strong spirit and personality dominate the scene. As they leave the ballroom, like animated Beast, live-action Beast is fully in love with Belle.

Both versions of the waltz scene move the story appropriately according to each movie’s mood and characterization.

There is chemistry between animated Belle and Beast during the dance. I care about them. I like them. I want them to make it to their happily ever after. Clnversely, that endearing chemistry is lacking between live-action Belle and Beast. They seem to be dancing, because they have to. Tale as Old as Time is the heart of the movie. It wouldn’t be Beauty and the Beast without the waltz scene. Their interactions feel superficial.

Live-Action Beauty and the Beast waltz scene:

Animated Beauty and the Beast waltz scene:

On another note:

Blogger hasn’t been playing nicely with the comment and reply feature. As such, 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 May article of the dance scene on the riverboat in the movie Chocolat.

Lindsay: I agree completely that the movie “Chocolat” is hands down better than the book “Chocolat”. The screenwriter took the core of the book’s story and greatly improved upon the plot and characterization. As you said, the movie is uplifting. The book is not.

C.A.: That’s a great way to describe the importance of the dance scene in “Chocolat” -- pivotal. As readers, we saw the attraction building between Vianne and Roux. What follows with the boat burning, though, is edge-of-your-seat watching for several minutes, which is another pivotal scene.

Renaissance Women: It is a magical clip. The music. The way Roux and Vianne dance together – Vianne self-consciously at first then Roux gaining her trust. It’s such a great movie.

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


  1. I love that you surprised us with this month's choice, and that you contrasted and compared the animated movie with the live-action version. I agree that there's shiny innocence in the first that becomes more spikey in the hands of Emma Watson. There may be a few reasons for that, including the fact that a cartoon can be drawn from a male perspective in a way an actor wouldn't relate to.
    I agree that it's the time when feelings become mutual, and it seems right to me that the realisation should come as a surprise to Belle, given her situation.

  2. Thanks for choosing my favourite fairy tale and using the dance from both versions of "Beauty and the Beast." I agree the dance sequence in both reveals the developing and developed feelings between Belle and Beast, showing how far the pair have come. It's an inspiring, beautiful moment. I have both versions of the films and enjoy both.

  3. Love your observations on the difference between the two movies and your conclusion about the love/affection between the two as their relationship flowers.