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Top 10 Tango Dance Scenes in Movies

VO: Emily Brayton
Tango dance scenes, movies, dance, tango, tango scenes, Shall We Dance, Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Let’s Dance, Addams Family, Scene of a woman, Frida, Moulin Rouge!, Chicago, MsMojo, top 10, top 5, youtube

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Top 10 Tango Dance Movie Scenes

They say it takes two! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 tango dance scenes in movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the tango scenes that were the most well performed, enjoyable, or entertaining, as well as technical. The dance must be a legitimate tango, not a hybrid or something resembling a tango. For our purposes, only the original will do.

#10: Let’s Dance
“Love and Dance” (2009)

Sometimes, the music is just background noise. This tango is performed in a quiet and almost sullen setting, which forces the audience to focus completely on the dancers as they work through their sensual routine. The music played by the band is so soft that the footsteps and slide of the dancers feet can be heard on the hardwood floor - pulling even more attention away from the music and towards the dance itself. With an accordion and violin crescendo and beautiful choreography, this particular scene from the Polish dance film truly stole the spotlight.

#9: Morticia and Gomez
“Addams Family Values” (1993)

In true Addams family fashion, this scene was as over the top as it was dramatic. Set in a dungeon-y dinner party, the infamous duo set the stage on fire - literally. Complete with jealousy, passion, and of course some eccentric add-ons, the tango was certainly comedic… but also undeniably well performed. Though we don’t recommend catching knives in your teeth or spinning fast enough to light the floor on fire, we can’t deny that Morticia and Gomez’s performance was one that stands out, even by the strange standards of the Addams family.

#8: Is it Hot in Here?
“Frida” (2002)

Famous for being a seductive and sensual performance, this dance had audiences fanning themselves and asking “is it hot in here?”. When famed artist Frida and her dance partner Tina decide to show the boys how it’s done, they don’t hold back when it comes to sensuality or racy dancing. With a lilting, passionate soundtrack from the live singer, the two women dance slowly, speeding up in the climax of the tango, and ending the whole thing off with a kiss. Earning their applause, the dancers made it a performance to remember, with steamy choreography and more chemistry than most viewers could handle.

#7: Dancing Blind
“Scent of a Woman” (1992)

A scene that tugged at our heartstrings as much as it impressed us, this ballroom tango was unlike any other. Led by the blind veteran Frank Slade, played by Al Pacino, Donna is taught the intricacies of the tango with patience and a little bit of pep. The look of concentration on Slade’s face coupled with his sureness of step wowed his audience as well as his partner. Though the dance started off somewhat tense, as the duo tangoed on, the smiles that crept onto the faces of Slade and Donna brought the dance lesson to an enthusiastic and beautiful conclusion.

#6: After You
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (2005)

Mutual attraction is one thing, but wanting to kill each other adds a whole new level of tension. After the breakdown of their marriage, super-assassins played by Brad and Angelina engage in a sexually tense tango that consists of insults traded back and forth and a lot of weapons pulled from inconspicuous places. Passionate enough without the marital issues, this tango was slow, quiet, but loaded with emotional strain and sexy undertones. Never skipping a beat even when deep in conversation, the couple managed to make their tango both sultry and dangerous at the same time.

#5: Follow My Lead
“Shall We Dance” (2004)

Another dancing lesson scene, this time it’s the female character, played by Jennifer Lopez, who steps up to teach Richard Gere how to follow her lead. After-hours in a dimly lit studio, the urban backdrop of this dance and the mix of modern and traditional music makes it a unique tango. Instructing Gere’s character, lawyer John Clark, to “only move if [he] feels it”, Lopez slowly turns her partner from a stiff, boxy dancer to a man who can comfortably take the lead and tango as sensually as he needs to. That progression of the dance is half the fun, and made this tango scene an unforgettable one.

#4: International vs. Traditional
“Tango” (1998)

Lively and high-spirited, this tango pitted an international tango star against the traditional tango soundtrack. Juan Carlos Copes never slows down as he twirls and dips his partner all across the stage, his high energy and clear enthusiasm for the dance coming through thanks to smile on his face. Capturing the attention of both the on-screen audience and viewers of the film, the quick beat of the music and fiery setting had us humming along. It takes two to tango, but it takes a dancer with the skills of Juan Carlos Copes to make it look THIS good.

#3: Steamy Schoolhouse
“Take the Lead” (2006)

Have you ever been in detention? How about a dance class? Was it anything like this? In an effort to inspire his students to take dance seriously, Pierre enlists the help of skilled dancer Morgan to demonstrate the tango. Cranking up the heat in the basement the class rehearses in, he and his student perform a sultry version of the tango that has the rest of his class suddenly interested in the whole “dance” thing. Between the sensual music and that skin-tight black dress, this quick fiery performance is impossible to ignore. Who wouldn't want to learn to dance like that?

#2: Cellblock Tango
“Chicago” (2002)

A mixture of comedy and pure dancing talent, this musical number was a fresh new spin on the traditional tango. Singing the story of killing off their husbands, six wives locked up in a jailhouse sing and perform the dance at the same time. Eccentric but entertaining to the end, each wife performs a spectacular tango with an unsuspecting prison guard, telling the story of how they wound up in the pen in the first place. Telling a story through the dance as well as their monologues, this tango made us laugh as much as it impressed us with its choreography.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

Undercover Tango
“True Lies” (1994)

Elegance in a Dance
“Easy Virtue” (2008)

The Last Tango
“Assassination Tango” (2002)

#1: Jealousy Will Drive You Mad
“Moulin Rouge!” (2001)

A elaborate and incredibly choreographed tale of love, lust, and jealousy, this tango is one that’s impossible to forget. With a little help from the unique singing talents of Jacek Koman, Ewan McGregor, and Jose Feliciano, this tango succeeds in telling a story - one of a man who falls in love with a prostitute, but is driven mad by jealousy and unable to cope with her going back onto the streets. The dance builds into a heart-pounding crescendo and an ending that says “If I can’t have her, no one can.” Passionate, dramatic and a visual feast for the eyes, it’s undeniably one of the greatest dance sequences ever committed to film.


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