Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Isn't There An Oscar For Dance Direction?

As I sit down to watch the re-runs of the 84th Academy Awards that were conducted earlier in the day, I can’t help but wonder ‘Why isn’t there an Academy Award for the Best Choreography or Dance Direction?’ It was exactly this question that got me to sit down at my laptop and do some research on whether or not they ever had such an award in the past. 

Here are some of the findings revealed by this search that spanned over innumerable web pages. (Note: Some of them may seem unrelated to the others; but they’re all relevant to the question that got me researching.) 

Blast From The Past
A Still From 'Broadway Melody of 1936'
Believe it or not, there was a Best Dance Direction Category at the Oscars for 3 years way back in the 1930s.
1935: Dave Gould took home the prestigious award for his ‘I’ve Got A Feeling You’re Fooling’ number that was part of the Broadway Melody of 1936 and for his ‘Straw Hat’ from Folies Bergere
1936: Semour Felix grabbed the Golden Lady for ‘A Pretty Girl Is like a Melody’ from The Great Ziegfeld.
1937: Hermes Pan bagged the last ever award in the category for ‘Fun House’ from A Damsel in Distress.

Honorary Awards
We’ve all heard of the Lifetime Achievement Awards given out every year at the Academy Awards; but did you know that there are other such honorary awards that could be given out at the discretion of the Board of Governors. These awards are generally given out for ‘exceptional contributions to motion picture arts and sciences; and outstanding service to the academy’.

Michael Kidd With His Oscar In 1997
Choreographer Michael Kidd was one such recipient of the Honorary Award in 1997. He was presented the award by the pretty and graceful Julie Andrews. Here’s what his speech sounded like –

Thank you, Jools. Jools, you're a treasure for being here. Thank you.

I didn't know how to handle all this, but my wife Shelah, who was my assistant on many of these pictures and naturally bore the brunt of my grouchiness, said to me: Michael, the Academy is honoring you. For once stop being Mr. Bah Humbug and try to enjoy it, at least for your family and friends' sake. Well, she's not only beautiful, she's right. So, Shelah, and Matthew, Amy, Kris, and Susan -- and even Julie [Andrews] who calls me an old curmudgeon -- and the many friends who wrote or phoned with the same message, once the reality of all this sinks in I promise to enjoy it. I've even had my glasses tinted slightly rose-colored.

So many of today's films stress the terrors that await us. Perhaps this award signifies an awareness that we have been missing something, namely the vitality and the joy of living that movie musicals can express in song and dance. I thank the Academy for this tribute. I accept it in the name of all choreographers and especially the dancers who made it all possible. We feel honored. Thank you.

The Tony Awards To The Rescue
The Tony Award Trophy
While we may not have an Oscar to honor the dancers of the industry; the Tony Awards come to the rescue. The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre (commonly called the Tony Award) is the equivalent of the Oscar or the Academy Awards. The annual ceremony held at New York City is presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League.

Since the Tony Awards are generally held in June, you’ll just have to wait until then to see who wins the accolades for their dancing skills.

Until then, kick back your dancing shoes; prop your legs up on the couch; and enjoy the 84thAcademy Awards (just as I will).

Pssst… Tom Hank’s on screen now. I love the man. So, I must go. Keep Dancing!


  1. Cant believe choreographers for movies like Chicago and Moulin Rouge have gone unacknowledged.I think Roxette in Moulin Rouge is one of the most spectacular piece of choreography that I have ever seen!

    1. I couldn't agree any more with you. I am saddened by the fact that a number of dancers and choreographers haven't been given their due. It does help to have the Tony; but then again, it would have been nice to have a mainstream Oscar for a dance direction category.

      As for movies like Chicago and Moulin Rouge; they're in a category of their own. I can't even imagine them having been made without John O'Connell and Rob Marshall.

  2. One of the winners at this year's Oscars thanked Disney for making movies with songs :)

    1. That would be Bret McKenzie -


Got any questions, suggestions or doubts? Drop us a line!