Shall We Dance? (1951 song)

"Shall We Dance?" is a show tune from the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.[1] It is sung by the characters of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam, originated on Broadway by Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner respectively.[2] Valerie Hobson played Anna in the original London West End production, and Marni Nixon (who sang the songs while Deborah Kerr lip-synced) in the 1956 film of The King and I.[2] The song comes about after Anna and the King disagree about love's meaning;[3] the King believes that love is a "silly complication of a pleasant simplicity" and a "fairy tale" while Anna believes that love is real and natural. They sing "The Song of the King" first. Anna then tries to explain the idea of romance in a simple way to the King and becomes caught up in her own experience of love at first sight at an English dance. Her reminiscences become the introductory verse of "Shall We Dance?".

"Shall We Dance?"
Songwriter(s)Oscar Hammerstein II
Composer(s)Richard Rodgers

The song is most famous for a sequence charged with romantic tension in which Anna teaches the King to polka. Their subsequent dance usually traverses a large part of the stage.


The movie version of the song finished at #54 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.


The movie, Sharu wi Dansu (1995), from Japan, was named after the song.


  1. ^ Fuld, James J. (2000). The Book of World Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. Courier Dover Publications. p. 494. ISBN 9780486414751.
  2. ^ a b Hischak, Thomas S. (2007). The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 242. ISBN 9780313341403.
  3. ^ Pymm, John (2005). A Student's Guide to A2 Performance Studies for the OCR Specification. Rhinegold Publishing Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 9781904226499.