It’s a battle royale between the most wanton women of the 19th century: Anna Karenina vs Madame Bovary. Up first is that unrepentant hussy Anna. In the 2012 movie version, she and the soul-squashingly debonaire Count Vronsky take an erotically-charged spin around the dance floor that scandalizes Moscow society. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s post-modern take on the waltz will linger in your memory for weeks. The sensual writhing and twisting of their arms, the way that ANNA spins VRONSKY around, and his sublime peacocking is simply gasp-inducing. I must have watched it half a dozen times before uploading it here.
But as gorgeous as all that flailing Twyla Tharp-y stuff is, can it really hold a candle to the classic waltz scene in Vincent Minnelli’s Madam Bovary? Here, Jennifer Jones plays the social-climbing trollop Emma Bovary. In this dizzying scene – one of the most astonishing dance sequences ever filmed – she is whirled around the dance floor, faster and faster, by a handsome stranger at a splashy society ball. Round and round she goes, the camera spinning from her POV, ever faster, until she can’t go on. “I can’t breathe!” she says. “I’m going to faint!” So the men at the ball gallantly BREAK THE WINDOWS as she twirls past. They actually break the windows! SMASH! goes each window in progression. SMASH! SMASH! My GOD, it’s so romantic! Well, that is until her drunken buffoon of a husband ruins EVERYTHING. Poor Emma. Will she EVER catch a break?
Do yourself a favor and watch both videos and tell me which you think is THE BEST BALLROOM DANCE SEQUENCE EVER COMMITTED TO FILM?