This week Whovian Leap steps onto the dance floor with the Doctor and checks out his moves. Join us as we look at the role of dance in Doctor Who.
Let’s start with “The Chase” and Ian Chesterton who jives to the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”.
In the third episode of “The Celestial Toymaker”, “The Dancing Floor”, Steven and Dodo encounter three mannequins who turn into ballerinas and start dancing.
Billy doesn’t boogie in “The War Machines” but the First Doctor does visit a nightclub in Covent Garden called “Inferno”. He looks for Dodo in what is apparently “the hottest night spot in town”.
The Second Doctor jigs joyfully when he finds his diary in “The Power of the Daleks”.
Jamie performs the popular Scottish dance in “The Macra Terror” and “highland flings” himself out of the door in a bid to escape. At the end of the story the colonists decide to hold a dance festival every year in the Doctor and companions’ honour. Jamie, the Doctor, Ben and Polly all perform the fling again, dancing discreetly towards the door.
What about the Third Doctor? He visits the English village of Devil’s End in “The Daemons” where some local morris dancers tie him to a maypole. The pole is put to its more traditional use at the end of the tale when the Doctor, Jo, Benton and Miss Hawthorne all dance merrily around it.
In “Planet of the Spiders” the Brigadier admires a belly dancer for her “muscular control” – “Very fit that girl! I must adapt some of those movements as exercises for the men!”
Perhaps for fear of tripping over his scarf, the Fourth Doctor’s era sees very little dancing. The Sisterhood of Karn perform ritualistic moves of worship in “The Brain of Morbius”, Jago talks to a dance girl in “The Talons of Weng Chiang” and there are celebrations at the feast of Melkur in “The Keeper of Traken”.
In the Fifth Doctor’s second tale “Four to Doomsday” we see a complex didgeridoo dance routine on board the Monarch’s ship and in “Black Orchid” the Doctor and companions attend a dance at Cranleigh Hall. Tegan even performs the Charleston. In “Snakedance” we meet the mystical cult of the Snakedancers.
Michael Grade may have led the Sixth Doctor a merry dance, but on screen there is no dancing to be seen. The Seventh Doctor’s era sees the Kangs performing dance ceremonies in “Paradise Towers”. In “Delta and the Bannermen” the Doctor arrives at the Shangri-La holiday camp attends the “Welcome Dance”.
The Eighth Doctor skips around a San Francisco park in glee as he remembers Gallifrey, in the TV movie. “The sky above us was dancing with lights!” he exclaims, waving his arms through the air. Revellers dance at the hospital’s Millenium Eve party in the same story.
The dance goes on with Nu-Who in 2005. The Ninth Doctor looks like everyone’s dad and does a little dance to “Tainted Love” in “The End of the World”. In the appropriately named “The Doctor Dances” he whirls Rose round the console. Captain Jack dances with her too, a little more impressively, on top of his invisible spaceship parked in the sky next to Big Ben!
The Tenth Doctor’s heart beats out a Samba in “New Earth”, at least according to Cassandra who is possessing him.
Reinette invites the Doctor to “dance” in “The Girl in the Fireplace” and afterwards he turns up drunk singing “I could have danced all night”!
In “The Runaway Bride” we see a melancholic Tenth Doctor in the midst of some lively dancing at Donna’s wedding reception, but he doesn’t feel like joining in. He leans against the bar and dreams of Rose, with Murray Gold’s “Love Don’t Roam” playing in the background.
In “Daleks in Manhattan” Tallulah and fellow dancers perform an elaborate song and dance routine: “My Angel Put the Devil in Me”.
In “Human Nature” the human Doctor accompanies Joan Redfern to the village dance and attempts a waltz.
In “The Sound of Drums” and “Last of the Timelords” the Master dances to Rogue Traders’ catchy “Voodoo Child” and Scissor Sisters’ raunchy “I Can’t Decide”.
Couples dance on board the Titanic in “Voyage of the Damned”. Curbishley fondly recalls a can-can dance in “The Unicorn and the Wasp”.
Inevitably the Eleventh Doctor dances with everyone at Amy and Rory’s wedding. We see children’s favourite “the drunk giraffe” for the first time in “The Big Bang” (which the Doctor also performs in his final adventure “The Time of the Doctor”).
He also dances on the Ponds’ television, appearing in Laurel and Hardy’s “Flying Deuces” (“The Impossible Astronaut”).
We discover in “The Girl Who Waited” that Amy first kissed Rory while they were dancing the Macarena.
In “The Power of Three” the Doctor is somewhat annoyed by the fact that one of the Shakri’s cubes is playing “The Chicken Dance aka The Birdie Song” on a continuous loop.
What about Series 8? Missy dances around the Nethersphere garden in “Deep Breath”. The Doctor performs a tap dance to find the right spot to blow up in “Time Heist” and he famously dances with joy in “Flatline” (top).
Moving away from the show’s narrative, it is quite surprising how important a role dance plays in the production of Doctor Who itself. In the early days the production team hired choreographers for episodes which included dance routines or aliens and monsters who moved in a particular way. Roslyn De Winter worked on the insects’ movements in “The Web Planet” and Tutte Lemkow assisted character movements in “The Celestial Toymaker”. Between 2005 and 2009 the new series had a full time choreographer, Ailsa Berk, who coordinated Autons, Clockwork Droids, Scarecrows and Cybermen and taught the actors in “Human Nature” to dance. She has even given classes to the public in how to walk like different monsters at the “Doctor Who Experience”.
Dancers have appeared in the show in acting roles. The most obvious example is Bonnie Langford who gave an energetic performance as companion Melanie Bush. Christopher Gable did a wonderfully disturbing turn as Sharez Jek in “The Caves of Androzani”. His face is masked, but his body language conveys the multi-faceted lunacy of the character. He scuttles across the floor howling in torment after Peri screams at his unmasked scarred and hideous face. It is one of the finest acting performances ever in the show.
Who can forget the sleek and deadly Raston Warrior Robot from “The Five Doctors”? Only a dancer of the ability of Keith Hodiak could perform such peculiar leaps. Hardly surprisingly he is now a renowned professional dance instructor.
Since 2005 dancer Paul Kasey has given impressive performances in a plethora of monster roles requiring a great deal of physical dexterity and versatility. He has become the resident “monster actor” appearing as the Cybermen, Clockwork Androids, the Hoix, the Judoon and the Ood to name but a few.
Who can forget David Tennant himself dancing alongside the Doctor Who cast and crew to celebrate the end of his era? It was an absolute joy to watch them performing The Proclaimers’ “500 Miles”.
Last but not least chat show host Craig Ferguson invented a Doctor Who song and dance routine to explain Doctor Who to an American audience.
So when you think about it, there is actually quite a lot of dancing in Doctor Who. In fact Rose once asked the Ninth Doctor “Doesn’t the universe implode or something if you dance?” and quite appropriately he replies, “Well I’ve got the moves but I wouldn’t want to boast!”