ByWhovian Leap, writer at
Whovian Leap

For all the alien worlds and terrifying monsters which have appeared in Doctor Who, a show that has been running for over fifty years will inevitably touch on more terrestrial matters and more down-to-earth aspects of human society. One facet of our day-to-day lives that has gone largely unnoticed in the show is the world of dance. Since the earliest days of human civilisation moving one's body rhythmically to music has played a significant role in ceremonies, celebrations and entertainment. Of greater importance to a Whovian, dance has also featured in many of the Doctor's adventures and in the show's production itself. RTD himself observed that Whovians are not averse to dancing. We are symbolised by Elton Pope who dances to "Mr Blue Sky" in "Love and Monsters". What's more, now the show has entered the mainstream and has wide appeal among the hip, cool and trendy youth of today, it isn't far-fetched to imagine a Nu-Who fan tuning in to Who on a Saturday night and then going out clubbing and painting the town red (or should that be Tardis-blue?) Doctor Who and dance are not mutually exclusive, so let's strut our funky Whovian stuff back through the show's history and see exactly how!

Though Doctor Billy doesn't boogie in "The War Machines", the First Doctor does end up in a nightclub in Covent Garden, called "Inferno". The Doctor is looking for Dodo in what is apparently "the hottest night spot in town". In "The Chase" Ian Chesterton jives somewhat awkwardly to the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride". The third episode of "The Celestial Toymaker" is named, not inappropriately, "The Dancing Floor". Steven and Dodo encounter three mannequins who turn into ballerinas and start to dance.

The Second Doctor does a joyful jig when he finds his diary in "The Power of the Daleks". Jamie performs a certain Scottish dance in "The Macra Terror" and in one scene "highland flings" himself out of the door in a bid to escape. At the end of the story the grateful colonists decide to hold a dance festival every year in the Doctor and his companions' honour. Jamie, the Doctor, Ben and Polly all perform the fling once again and dance discreetly towards the door.

What about the Third Doctor? He visits the traditional English village of Devil's End in "The Daemons" where some local morris dancers quite ungraciously tie him to a maypole. However the pole is put to its more familiar use at the end of the tale as the Doctor, Jo, Benton and Miss Hawthorne dance merrily around it. In "Planet of the Spiders" the Brigadier admires a belly dancer for her "muscular control" and says "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, aside from the Sisterhood of Karn making ritualistic moves of worship in "The Brain of Morbius" and the celebrations at the feast of Melkur in "The Keeper of Traken". Not forgetting the dance girl who Jago talks to in "The Talons of Weng Chiang".

In the Fifth Doctor's second tale "Four to Doomsday" a complex dance routine to didgeridoo music is performed on board the Monarch's ship and in "Black Orchid" the Tardis crew attend a dance at Cranleigh Hall and Tegan performs the Charleston. And let's not forget "Snakedance" where we meet the mystical cult of the Snakedancers. Michael Grade led the Sixth Doctor and production crew a merry dance, but on screen there was dearth of it. The Seventh Doctor's run sees the Kangs performing dance ceremonies in "Paradise Towers". In "Delta and the Bannermen" the Doctor arrives at the Shangri-La holiday camp and we take to the floor at 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, his arms waving symbolically through the air. In the same story revellers dance at the hospital's Millenium Eve party.

The dance goes on with Nu-Who in 2005. The Ninth Doctor lets himself go to "Tainted Love" in "The End of the World" and in the appropriately named "The Doctor Dances" he whirls Rose round the console. Jack and Rose dance on top of Jack's invisible spaceship parked next to Big Ben in the same adventure. Reinette asks the Tenth Doctor to "dance" in "The Girl in the Fireplace" and he obviously has had a good time when afterwards he turns up drunk singing "I could have danced all night". He very probably did! In "The Runaway Bride" at Donna's aborted wedding reception we see a melancholic Tenth Doctor in the midst of some lively dancing but he doesn't feel like joining in. He just leans against the bar and imagines Rose, as Murray Gold's "Love Don't Roam" plays in the background. In "Daleks in Manhattan" Tallulah and company perform an elaborate on stage song and dance routine: "My Angel Put the Devil in Me". In "Human Nature" the chameleon-arched Doctor accompagnies Joan Redfern to the village dance and attempts a waltz. In "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Timelords" the Master dances to the Rogue Traders' catchy "Voodoo Child" and Scissor Sisters' raunchy "I Can't Decide". Couples dance on board the Titanic in "Voyage of the Damned" and Curbishley fondly recalls a can-can dance in "The Unicorn and the Wasp".

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 appears on the Ponds' television in Laurel and Hardy's "Flying Deuces" and performs a silly dance in "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. Fortunately nobody dances.

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 which 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 even gave master classes 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 those ever so 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. Last but not certainly not least, 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".

So the Doctor and "Doctor Who" do indeed dance. Rose famously asked the Ninth Doctor "Doesn't the universe implode or something if you dance?" to which he replied, "Well I've got the moves but I wouldn't want to boast!" Whether he was actually referring to dance itself or something equally energetic and passionate hardly matters. "Doctor Who" and "dance" both arouse passion in equal measures. Austrian writer Vicki Baum once wrote, "There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them". Watching "Doctor Who" is another.

If you have enjoyed this post, please like "Whovian Leap" on Facebook. It is really appreciated. Thank you.


Latest from our Creators