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Sep 08 2017
by Hannah Hornbuckle

6 Must-See Movies All Performing Arts Students Should Watch

By Hannah Hornbuckle - Sep 08 2017
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All students need to unwind sometimes, and the same is definitely true of performing arts students. After long day of singing, dancing and playing away, there's nothing better to do than sit down and enjoy a great movie. Here are six fantastic films that are must-sees for all performing arts students.


1. Billy Elliot

Universal Pictures

Set during the 1984 miners’ strike in England, Billy Elliot tells the story of a boy who discovers he loves dance while his family of miners struggles to understand his interest. Many performing arts students can relate to Billy Elliot’s dilemma: whether to embrace his passion for performing or to pursue the career his family expects of him. Though tense at times, Billy Elliot is ultimately a feel-good story about how hard work and determination can take anyone to great heights. For dance students, this film is must-see. Billy Elliot will leave you inspired and ready to twirl your way to success.


2. Don’t Think Twice

The Film Arcade

For students who plan to pursue comedy, this film will provide a humorous peek into some of the setbacks that aspiring improv comedians can face. Don’t Think Twice is a film about a group of improv comedians who begin to struggle with their personal and professional lives when one member of their group gets his big break on television. The film doesn’t just appeal to comedians, though; all performers can relate to the challenges of jealousy and fame portrayed in Don’t Think Twice. Plus, it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.


3. Hairspray

New Line Cinema

A familiar movie and show to most, Hairspray is a film that’s impossible not to smile through. Tracy, who has a love for dance but has been discouraged by others because of her weight, finds an opportunity to audition for the Corny Collins Show. Eventually, Tracy and her friends are able to integrate the Corny Collins Show after they are faced with the injustice of the show’s racial segregation. Hairspray is the perfect pick-me-up movie for anyone who has ever felt held back from their dream by others.


4. Whiplash

Blumhouse Productions

Unlike the other movies on this list so far, Whiplash takes a fairly dark approach to its depiction of life as a young person studying music. The protagonist, a drummer named Andrew, is constantly pushed to his limits by his conductor, who demeans and attacks his students. Andrew sacrifices his relationships and puts his health in jeopardy in order to become the greatest drummer that he can be. In the end, this film is valuable to performing arts students because it asks some essential questions: How is greatness achieved? And exactly how much is it worth?


5. Straight Outta Compton

New Line Cinema

All music enthusiasts need to know the true story of N.W.A, a hip-hop group that emerged in 1988 and included the members Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube. N.W.A aimed to produce music that depicted the reality of African American life in Compton, California. The group subsequently faced harassment from the police and were forced to struggle for their right to make new, necessary music. Straight Outta Compton proves that the path to success doesn’t have to be conventional and clear-cut, as long as passion and fight exist.


6. Frances Ha

Scott Rudin Productions

Frances Ha is intended to be a realistic portrayal of a woman’s journey pursuing a career in dance. Frances, a 27-year-old dancer living in New York City, begins to travel to find new living situations when her best friend, Sophie, moves out of their shared apartment. Frances struggles throughout the film to cope with her stalling dance career and her strained relationship with Sophie. Though the ending of Frances Ha isn’t dramatically triumphant, Frances is able to work teaching dance to children and doing clerical work for a dance company. Frances Ha’s conclusion shows that people can find genuine happiness in less grand situations than they may have originally hoped for. 

These films are perfect for any student who needs to relax after a long day of dream-chasing. Though they're from different genres and perspectives, they all provide beautiful messages about life as a performer, and they're bound to be favorites for performing arts students. 

Lead Image Credit: Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

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Hannah Hornbuckle - Barnard College

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