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The 10 best genre dance sequences to learn while in quarantine

By Emma Fraser
Ex Machina

Finding moments of jubilation during a global pandemic isn't always the easiest of tasks, but endeavors such as baking and dancing are providing a boost of serotonin. Famous figures including FANGRRLS favorite Florence Pugh have suggested both activities via Instagram Stories as a way to lift spirits. Whether you want to boogie freestyle to a playlist of your choosing or add structure via online dance classes, there are plenty of options available.

Actors including Emma Stone, Tatiana Maslany, Andrew Scott, and Margaret Qualley have all recently sung the praises (in some cases appearing as part of the live workout) of choreographer Ryan Heffington's joyful Sweatfest dance class. There is no right or wrong answer as to what you should be doing while staying home — whatever gets you through the day is important. Nevertheless, having just started the latter in the last week, I can point to how doing this 45-minute dance session along with around 5000 other people using Instagram Live (including Maslany) made me feel triumphant. The benefit of doing this in your own home is you can dance like no one is watching.

Dance videos have reached a new height of popularity over the last few months with platforms like TikTok providing the perfect outlet for 15-to-30-second choreographed numbers. This activity might seem intimidating if, like me, your skills in this department are rudimentary at best. But learning a routine doesn't mean you have to share it on social media. You can learn a fun piece of choreography, just for you, or to emulate your favorite on-screen boogie. There are plenty of popular TikTok challenges with varying degrees of difficulty, including the incredibly popular Renegade, which definitely requires a tutorial. However, here at SYFY FANGRRLS we are turning to science-fiction, horror and fantasy to get our endorphin-releasing routine suggestions. Plenty of genre movies and TV shows have us leaping to our feet, in a bid to learn the moves from the likes of American Psycho or Ex Machina. Dance inspiration can strike anywhere whether traditional musicals like Mary Poppins or the interactive Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Speaking from personal experience, learning dance routines is a daunting prospect because I lack finesse or coordination. But four years ago, instead of doing a traditional slow dance at my wedding, my now-husband suggested doing the Ex Machina disco number. The thought of all those eyes on me while swaying to a perfectly chosen love song filled me with dread, but to this I said yes. After weeks practicing in our kitchen, the day arrived and we semi-seamlessly executed this series of moves. It was a huge challenge and in the minutes before unleashing our disco fever attempt on the world, I was terrified. Nevertheless, it felt triumphant and unforgettable. As Ex Machina star Sonoya Mizuno recently admitted to Variety, it is a routine burned into her mind and I can identify with this (OK, maybe I need a few more sessions in my kitchen).

So now it is over to you! Here are 10 dances to learn from genre TV and film — ranking from easiest to most difficult.

Twin Peaks - Audrey Horne

"God, I love this music. Isn't it too dreamy?" Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) wistfully comments while hanging out in the Double R Diner in the second episode of Twin Peaks. Getting up to dance to the ethereal jazz song on the jukebox, this is more about feeling at one with the track — the piece of music is called "Audrey's Dance." This song and Audrey's easily replicated moves were reprised in the 2017 revival during a pivotal scene. Swaying slowly, this is a great routine for beginners as it doesn't require any technical prowess or coordination skills. It's also a solo effort, making it the ideal social distancing dance to get you started.

Orphan Black - Clone Club

What's better than one Tatiana Maslany dancing? Four Tatiana Maslanys dancing together in one scene! Set to Cosima's reggae vinyl choice, "Water Prayer (Matt the Alien Remix)" by Adham Shaikh, the chilled out vibe is a freestyle affair demonstrating each clone’s personality through this bop. Cosima is at one with the beat, Sarah’s got some cool af moves, Alison is going full dorky mom, and Helena delivers expressive headbanging. Try all four (with added Felix and Kira) to get the full effect. A technological and rhythmic triumph.

American Psycho - Patrick Bateman

Of course, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) has learned the moonwalk and so can you during this lockdown period. The plastic raincoat is optional, but the shoulder shimmy hip-swinging move is a simple piece of choreography that anyone can master. Bale moves in time to the music, which he improvised on set and has since become a much-giffed scene. Just avoid the whole axe murder part of this sequence, but do listen to the lyrics of "Hip to Be Square" by Huey Lewis and the News, as Patrick suggests, "A song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it's also a personal statement about the band itself."

Guardians of the Galaxy - Peter Quill

There are a couple of prime choices from first Guardians of the Galaxy movie courtesy of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) including the a capella "O-o-h Child" distraction dance-off climactic sequence featuring hip thrusts and karate kicks. Quill’s style is all improv, which includes the opening routine set to Redbone’s "Come and Get Your Love." This one can be done while out on a socially distancing walk (especially if there are puddles nearby) or in the confines of your home or garden. This song is a bop, which demands this enthusiastic response. Spins are strongly suggested but leave the animal cruelty behind, and jet boots might be hard to source. 

Rocky Horror Picture Show - Riff Raff

The ultimate example of dance participation lyrics, which tells you exactly what to do with your body. A euphoric burst of energy is all but guaranteed for anyone who joins in; a classic routine that continues to deliver the thrills. Costumes are not compulsory but will give a much-needed serotonin boost — a gold glitter top hat really does improve any outfit.

Ex Machina - Nathan and Kyoko

"I'm gonna tear up the f***ing dance floor," Nathan (Oscar Isaac) tells an uninterested Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) as "Get Down Saturday Night" by Oliver Cheatham begins to play. And tear up the dance floor he does, alongside Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) in a choreographed disco bop that can be mastered by a novice — speaking from personal experience — and would fit into this TikTok era, as well as its original 1983 release date. As time and days have lost meaning, this routine is ideal for any night of the week. Just turn the lights to red and crank your arm chain magic and baseball-inspired moves.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Buffy Summers

Dance is deadly in "Once More with Feeling," the iconic Buffy musical episode that featured a demon who controls people and gets them to reveal buried secrets and unresolved issues via song. This routine starts out with simple shoulder warm-up but turns into a more physical ditty featuring fighting moves and broken pool cue props. It also includes a lot of spins so make sure you have someone on hand from your household to catch you. Backup dancers are non-mandatory but are a fun addition if there are enough people in your household who would like to participate.

Mary Poppins - Bert and the Penguins

This is where things get a lot more technical! This dance is for those who know tap and can do a routine with their pants pulled down slightly to mimic a penguin. Stretching for far longer than the typical TikTok runtime, maybe chop this delightful sequence into more manageable chunks — but make sure to include a few enthusiastic leg kicks. Animated penguins are not an easy squad to find, but a straw boater hat and a walking cane will certainly add to the Mary Poppins aesthetic.

Paddington 2 - Phoenix Buchanan

Adding some razzle-dazzle with another tap-infused sequence. This is another one bursting with joy, as Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) gifts the audience with a rendition of Stephen Sondheim's “Rain on the Roof” (from Follies) during the Paddington 2 end credits. If you choose this challenge, you will benefit from a staircase, a pink ensemble, and an umbrella prop to aid the whimsical flight of fancy.

Black Swan - Nina Sayers

For all the ballet and wannabe ballet dancers out there, this is one for those with a good sense of balance and a supportive dance partner. In Black Swan, this performance is the pinnacle of Nina's (Natalie Portman) career and therefore is way beyond my rudimentary skills. Alternatively, try this Black Swan makeup tutorial, stick on a tutu and prance around with all the confidence of a prima ballerina. The end results might not be as elegant, but they will be less deadly than Nina's fate.

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