Animator John Hench apparently resisted working on this segment because he knew nothing about ballet, so to appease him Walt Disney gave him season tickets and backstage access to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The end result is a perfect blend of ballet technique and animalistic movement. Little things like the way the ostriches walk, the literal shifting of weight in the hippos and elephants, and the way the crocodiles slither and curl up all speak to the real-life animals that inspire them, but are incorporated seamlessly into how they dance.
Taking full advantage of the possibilities of animation, the laws of physics are given a big ol' heave-ho, allowing the lead ostrich to be thrown up very high in the air very quickly, and then float down with enough time to do at least a hundred changements. It also allows the crocodiles to lift the hippos in any number of different, exciting, sometimes funny ways, like just using their tails!
Fantasia has lots of dance in it, but this is the only sequence that really uses dance (ballet specifically) as its driving force. It's also arguably the most fun, which should quiet all those people who decry ballet as boring. There are plenty of comic ballets, just as there are comic operas. Plus, if you picture people performing this instead of animated animals, it's still pretty great. Actually, seeing as how the whole thing is even structured like an actual ballet (the various ensembles each dance separately, followed by a pas de deux, then a grand finale with everyone dancing together), I would love to see some adventurous ballet company attempt this. They'd need some wires and some crazy costumes, but it could be a lot of fun.
Favorite Moment: the crocodiles' entrance, at first menacing, until they throw back their capes and have the silliest look on their faces - in perfect unison, of course (at 7:50 in the clip); and hippo's run-and-jump onto the croc, who attempts to catch her (at 9:10 in the clip) - because some (poor) partners really do feel like that when you try to lift them.
Length: Approx. 11:50