If you've been paying attention to the bold new changes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will be implementing for the 82nd annual Academy Awards held today, you know that director-slash-our fave "So You Think You Can Dance" judge, Adam Shankman, is attempting to revitalize the telecast along with show co-producer Bill Mechanic. How exactly will they freshen up a traditionally super-serious awards show – and draw in those elusive viewers who don't traditionally watch the Oscars? Why, with the power of dance!
Of course, the Oscars will still (mostly) be about honoring some of the best cinematic achievements of the year (and seeing which A-listers dazzle and disappoint on the red carpet, naturally). But this year it shall also be about tweens watching for the likes of Miley Cyrus, Channing Tatum, and Zac Efron, all of whom have been in films Shankman either directed or produced and have prior dancing experience, leading us to wonder if they'll bust a move or two themselves during the show. Dance fans will get an extra treat as various former SYTYCDers are set to appear along with Step Up 3 director Jon Chu's dance group The LXD, or The League of Extraordinary Dancers. (Watch this teaser of robotics expert Madd Chadd in his undies and spray painted like an Oscar statuette for a taste of what the LXD has planned.)
If you only know Shankman through the films he directed (The Wedding Planner, A Walk to Remember, Bringing Down the House, The Pacifier, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Hairspray, Bedtime Stories) or for his emotional television dance contest judging, get a feel for his dance sensibilities by revisiting five of his best works as a film choreographer. And make sure you come back after the show tonight and tell us what you thought of the Oscars' dance-tastic telecast.
** Director Anne Fletcher (Step Up, The Proposal), who also got her start as a dancer-choreographer before moving behind the camera, assisted Shankman on these and many of his other choreographing gigs and is assisting with choreography for the 2010 Oscar telecast.
She's All That
Adam Shankman is credited for the dance that ruled all of 1999, at least if you were a rom-com obsessed teenager. In this scene, a prom full of abnormally coordinated high schoolers breaks out into a spontaneous group dance once DJ Usher Raymond starts spinning Fatboy Slim's "Rockafeller Skank," integrating old school shimmies and swim moves with a boys vs. girls face-off; Shankman would recall the scenario years later in his '60s-set remake Hairspray.
It's still the 1970s, which means disco is king and porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is at the top of his game. The two forces come together in a moment of poetic synchronicity on the dance floor, as Dirk lays down the boogie and leads his fellow partiers in a polyester-filled line dance. Sadly, both disco and Diggler will eventually go out of fashion.
Heart and Souls
Thomas Reilly's invisible ghost friends (Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Tom Sizemore, Kyra Sedgwick) used to sing Frankie Valli's "Walk Like a Man" to him as a child; years later, they sing it again during a celebratory walk down the streets of San Francisco, dancing in tandem with the grown Thomas (Robert Downey Jr.) in one of the film's most joyous moments.
Stuck On You
Bob and Walt Tenor go through a lot just to get un-conjoined in the Farrelly Brothers' Stuck on You, and even though they end up back where they started, separation has its benefits – as evidenced by Walt's big moment playing the lead in a musical version of Bonnie & Clyde, in which he sings a startlingly good rendition of "Summertime" while 2010 Oscar nominee Meryl Streep (playing herself) launches into a complex dance number with a cast of "actors," including Adam Shankman himself (look closely at the dancing waiter on her right).
Adam Shankman not only directed, he also choreographed numerous musical numbers in this 2007 career highlight, a bubbly adaptation of John Waters' cult classic about an overweight teen trying to get on a variety show. In "You Can't Stop the Beat," Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) finally turns the tables on her rival, Amber von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and the whole cast gets in on some shuffling, ponying, shimmying action – even the cross-dressing John Travolta, who busts out a mean Tina Turner.