The King and I “Shall We Dance?” (1956)

One of the major plot points of The King and I is the king’s desire to have Siam viewed as a modern country, in large part to prevent foreign powers (like the British) from attempting to seize the country and make it a protectorate/colony. Toward this end, the story builds toward a grand ball where the king receives a British delegation that ultimately goes over very well. After the ball, the King and Anna continue to talk, and the discussion turns toward how women like her view dances like this. This is the start of “Shall We Dance?” and it’s one of my most favorite show tunes. Anna starts the song while the king watches in typical puzzlement.

We’ve just been introduced,
I do not know you well,
But when the music started
Something drew me to your side.
So many men and girls,
Are in each others arms.
It made me think we might be
Similarly occupied.

Shall we dance?
On a bright cloud of music, shall we fly?
Shall we dance?
Shall we then say “Goodnight and mean “Goodbye”?
Or perchance,
When the last little star has left the sky,
Shall we still be together
With are arms around each other
And shall you be my new romance?
On the clear understanding
That this kind of thing can happen,
Shall we dance?
Shall we dance?
Shall we Dance?

During the song, Anna begins to dance, and the king demands she teach him how as well.  As Anna teaches the king to dance, the song reprises, but it gradually becomes much more intimate, especially when the king catches on to the correct way to hold your dancing partner. The final instrumental reprise of the song is a beautiful moment when the king sweeps Anna around the ballroom. It’s a beautiful moment, and one I still dream of experiencing myself at times.

I like this song so much, it is, for me, the perfect expression of how a girl like me feels at a dance. When you’re dancing with a young man you’ve just met, anything seems possible, a quick meeting could turn into a romance just like that, you never know! And it’s also a perfect feel-good moment between Anna and the king. Whatever relationship there is between them peaks during this song and it is just perfectly executed.

What do you think about “Shall We Dance?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The King and I “The March of the Siamese Children” (1956)

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2 thoughts on “The King and I “Shall We Dance?” (1956)

  1. Pingback: The King and I “The March of the Siamese Children” (1956) | Film Music Central

  2. geelw

    Wow. Way back in 1977, Brynner came back to his role as the King and I still remember those commercials where “Shall We Dance” was played and he danced with Constance Towers. I hadn’t seen the film at that point, but the brief performance stuck in my head for years. So much so that it made me want to see the entire film. I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I did (and yep, it’s still a favorite musical of mine).

    Liked by 1 person


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