Horror Dances

Wednesday Dance Scene: Gothic Art, Or A Weird Improvisation?

There are dances that enter the cinematic pantheon, or at least the televised one. If you ask many horror fans who devoutly watch the hit Netflix series Wednesday Dance, performed by Jenna Ortega, could fall into that category without a doubt.

You can already find Jenna Ortega Wednesday dance scene in many lists of influential, not to mention bizarre, dances of horror cinema and TV, especially in recent years. Jenna Ortega dance scene in “Wednesday” has become a sensation on social networks, and there is even a long line of products based on it, such as the Wednesday Living Dead Dolls we reviewed on the website not long ago.

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What is in this dance that makes it so unique and talked about? It may be enough to see the scene to understand, but that still doesn’t tell us the whole picture. Here’s everything you need to know about the background, Jenna Ortega’s somewhat surprising choreography, and dance’s significant impact on our culture.

Wednesday became one of Netflix’s biggest hits, breaking quite a few records: for example, it is considered the most-watched TV series in English in its first week, with more than 341 million hours watched by Netflix subscribers (and people who used their password). As of the beginning of 2024, the series’ first season is in first place on the list of popular Netflix series in English, according to the viewing volume of Netflix subscribers in the first 91 days.

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In What Episode Does Wednesday Dance? And Why?

The series is about, you guessed it, Wednesday Addams – the eldest daughter of the Addams family, played by Jenna Ortega. It had several iconic scenes, such as the series’s beginning, when Wednesday sends Piranha Fish with her friends to school, causing her to get kicked out of school. But there is no doubt that the scene associated with the series occurred in the fourth episode of the first season, “Wow What A Night.” In this scene on Wednesday dance episode, she arrives with Tyler at the annual prom of Nevermore, which is known to host other abnormal youths with supernatural powers. 

You might ask yourself (or Google) what song does Wednesday dance to. The simple answer is that Wednesday breaks out to the tune of an awesome song, Wednesday dance song name is “Goo Goo Muck”, by The Cramps. The song, of course, became a huge hit afterwards. Ortega, by the way, said the chosen Wednesday dance song was perfect for her: “The Cramps is one of my favorite bands ever, so I was super excited, super pumped.”

This is a weird, gothic dance that mostly shows she doesn’t care what people think of her. It’s a mesmerizing and bizarre scene due to Ortega’s appearance (in an incredibly gothic black dress) and mainly due to her body movements and facial expressions. Thanks to some great editing, these are combined with the surprised looks of those present at the party.

Here is the full Jenna Ortega Wednesday dance scene:

Wednesday Dance: Weird, Outsider

According to reports, Burton and Ortega’s initial plan was that the Wednesday dance scene would be part of a flash mob, that is, a group of people (party attendees, in this case) who gather together and do a joint action in this case, a dance. Even before the song was chosen, the two decided that the dance would not be part of a flash mob, but instead, Ortega would do it in a way that presented her character as an outsider. According to Ortega, “I thought, no, there’s no way Wednesday would be cool with dancing and encouraging a bunch of people,” Ortega said. She talked to Burton, who agreed, “Yeah, let’s not do a circle. Let’s have it be her own thing.'”

The heroine diversity is also reflected in the same black gothic Wednesday dance dress, contrasting with the elegant white clothing of the other participants in the ball. While the other participants dance according to the norm, as if they are afraid to be different, Wednesday presents her difference, as if she doesn’t care what people think or if they say she is “weird.”

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The Choreographer Of Wednesday Dance Scene : Jenna Ortega

In a way that may or may not surprise you, Wednesday’s dance scene is choreographed by none other than Jenna Ortega. She received the assignment from the series’ director, Tim Burton. She forgot about it until two days before the shooting, which took place in Romania. 

If that’s not enough, it turns out that Ortega was sick with Covid-19 at that time. Some will say that the strange dance could be one of the symptoms of the virus. Others will criticize the production that required her to prepare a dance and make the shooting while she was sick. The positive results of the Covid-19 test, by the way, came shortly after the dance.

Some of Ortega’s gothic movements during Wednesday dance scene seem improvised, and it is possible that she made up parts of the dance on the set itself. Still, it’s hard to say that this dance is accidental. Ortega did not invent this style from scratch but turned it in new directions. Burton assigned her “homework” with a watch list that included archival footage of 1980s young goths in clubs.

There were also more professional Jenna Ortega dance inspirations, of course. Burton asked Ortega to watch segments of Bobby Posey (who won eight Tony Awards and one Oscar Award. Her primary influence is from the musical “Sweet Charity,” starring Posey, and especially from the part in the play called “The Rich Man’s Frug.” The scene combined a pretty impressive dance inspired by the “rooster dance.” The style required the dancers to perform mainly lateral dance movements. After they got tired – because it is not easy to dance like a chicken – they used less energy by relying primarily on hip movements.

Other inspirations that Ortega was exposed to, at Burton’s request, are the British rock band Suzy and the Banshees, considered one of the most important in the Gothic rock genre, who also used to incorporate the Frug dance in their music videos; a New Wave musician named Lynn Lovitch, who is also responsible for the rise of Gothic rock; And the French actor Denis Levant, in his last dance scene in the movie called “Beau Travail.”

Ortega, who has no experience in dance or choreography, watched all of these religiously and added a few more pieces that she thought were important to build the scene. She also watched the early versions of The Addams Family from the 1960s, which featured dancing by Wednesday Addams (as played by Lisa Loring) and Gomez Addams, the family’s father. The main inspiration is from the episode “Lurch’s Grand Romance” scene, where Wednesday and Lurch are having fun in the living room and doing the dance they call “The Drew.”

The Moment Wednesday (And Ortega) Become Wednesday

Based on all these, and probably her imagination and talent, Ortega assembled a dance. Surprisingly, Wednesday Dance was successful, to say the least. Above all, it could perfectly express the character’s DNA. Many fans of the series claim that this is the exact moment when Wednesday Addams became Wednesday Addams, and Jenna Ortega ultimately became Wednesday Addams (which, as mentioned, became Wednesday Addams).

Ortega, however, was surprised by the success. “I was honestly insecure about it,” she said afterward. “I think it’s very clear that I’m not a dancer or a choreographer.” Undoubtedly, Ortega is a total actress and puts her all into the role. In the case of Wednesday, for example, it is said that she learned, among other things, to play the cello, take kayak lessons, fence, arches, and even German. If that wasn’t enough, Tim Burton also asked her to blink when she was in the frame.

Wednesday Dance Scene Is Killing It On Tiktok

The thing about dance scenes nowadays is that they become viral quickly, thanks to platforms like “TikTok” and “Instagram.” To put it mildly, Wednesday’s dance crushed social media, especially TikTok. What’s interesting is that the most successful video took the dance and made a lot of changes to it. Instead of that 1980s song from Wednesday dance, the creator changed the music to “Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga, and edited the movs to make the dance much faster. The result is almost 400 million views for now on Youtube, which is of course much higher than the original Wednesday dance clip (“only” 63 million views, as of 2024).

By the way, Lady Gaga uploaded a version of her recreating Jenna Ortega dance scene on “Wednesday” to her own song. To put it mildly – it turned out a little less successful, in the unprofessional opinion of the writer of these lines. Jenna Ortega, who admires the singer, is said to be thrilled by Lady Gaga Wednesday dance moves.

Of course, even the best influencers (for example, Kim Kardashian) and some annoying teenagers who take pictures of themselves dancing with no talent accepted the challenge. It was possible to see the Wednesday dance in almost every corner of the web, with some decent dance moves and others awful. Cause not everyone is weird enough to learn how to do Wednesday dance well.

Cause maybe, in the end, Wednesday’s dance could have succeeded when it was done at one point in time by an actress who seemed born to play the character and danced herself into the history books. Because not everyone got the moves Jenna Ortega danced in “Wednesday.”

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