Visual Arts and Film Studies

Visual Arts and Film Studies

Sweet Charity
In this assignment, you will need to do a bit of research outside the class materials. You will be watching Sweet Charity, a musical directed by Bob Fosse. Instead of us telling you the themes present in this work, we would like to hear what you think. What image of America does Sweet Charity represent? How does the dancing provide a lens on that image? Consider Charity’s profession and professional aspirations. Consider who her friends are. Consider who she dates. Does this movie have a happy ending?

Read the full assignment then develop a thesis statement that will be supported throughout each paragraph. Describe how form, technique, and structure illustrates your argument.

Paragraph 1

Describe the socio-historical climate of the time in which the film was made. This paragraph will require you to do some outside research and cite your sources. What events in America bear particular significance in shedding light on the issues of identity (class, gender, race) represented in this musical? Does this musical support the American myth (as stated in Knapp) or a counter-myth and why or why not?

Paragraph 2

Describe how Sweet Charity reflects the themes of its time. Choose three specific dance scenes; compare them and discuss how much each dance contributes to the plot. In your analysis, attempt to address the Form, Technique, and Structure of the dance sequences in the film. Though each element might not carry equal weight, carefully consider which element will stand as your strongest evidence.

As musicals developed, song and dance became integral to advancing plot and character. To discuss the three dance scenes, upload one image for each scene that highlights the elements you are describing and illustrates how dance moves the story forward. These images will be a part of your evidence. You can use screen captures from the movie, you can reenact moments using your roommates or action figures, or even upload drawings. Then in your second paragraph, point out how each image exemplifies this dance, what it says about character or the plot and how it connects to the socio-historical aspects of your thesis. Make sure to describe what is remarkable in the form or structure of that image to the dance.

As you discuss the movement, remember to also look at how the whole body is being used. You may interpret “hip movement” as “sexual”–for instance, Elvis and his velvet pelvis–but it could also be mistaken as “sexual”. Think about the religious missionaries and their view of Tahitian dances or the hula. Please clarify your point of reference and how the hip movements may or may not be suggesting something sexual. Compare and contrast with each scene. How does it inform the story? Is it a contrast to what they are singing about or to their facial expressions? And just as you should discuss one movement in relation to the whole body, remember to discuss one dance scene in relation to the whole movie. How does the dance scene support your thesis on the American myth or counter-myth?
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