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Top 10 Greatest Dance Movies

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher
Script written by Spencer Sher These are the dance movies that stole our hearts! For this list, we’ll be basing our picks on how the films were received at the time of their initial release, how much dancing is actually in them and the quality of that dancing and whether or not the film is still considered a classic today. We’ve included films like Singing in the Rain, Strictly Ballroom, Black Swan, Centre Stage, Saturday Night Fever, Billy Elliot, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, The Red Shoes, Save the Last Dance and Happy Feet!

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Top 10 Dance Movies

Who doesn’t love a good dance flick? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dance Movies.

For this list, we’ll be basing our picks on how the films were received at the time of their initial release, how much dancing is actually in them and the quality of that dancing, as well as whether or not the film is still considered a classic today.

#10: “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)

Kicking off our list is a film best described as a certifiable dance classic! “Singin’ in the Rain” stars legendary actor, dancer, singer and choreographer Gene Kelly opposite a young Debbie Reynolds, and features some of the most iconic dance numbers in the history of the medium. Nominated for two Academy Awards, the musical is most famous for one dance sequence particular, featuring a rain-soaked Kelly prancing through the streets singing the song from which the film takes its name. “Singin’ in the Rain” is often listed as one of the best films of all-time and in 1989 the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation. High praise indeed!

#9: “Strictly Ballroom” (1992)

In his directorial debut, Baz Luhrmann gave the world a dance film it would never forget. The first in his Red Curtain Trilogy and based on a play of the same name that he himself directed, “Strictly Ballroom” is the story of Australian ballroom dancer who must fight to have his unconventional style of dance recognized. The film has no shortage of fantastic dance numbers, highlighted by dramatic climax that is both thoroughly engaging and expertly choreographed! The film was massively successful in Australia and even picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

#8: “Black Swan” (2010)

Director Darren Aronofsky is an auteur in every sense of the word and it shines through – though somewhat terrifyingly – in each of this film’s dance scenes. Viewers are treated to a selection of beautifully shot dance numbers as Natalie Portman’s troubled yet feverishly determined Nina strives to perfect the dual roles of Black and White swan in a New York City production of “Swan Lake”. While the film’s content is jarring to say the least, it is simultaneously complimented and challenged by the elegance of both the actors and dancers. Come for Natalie Portman’s Oscar winning performance, stay for the ballet.

#7: “Center Stage” (2000)

When “Center Stage” was released, teen drama’s were a dime a dozen. So it was nice to see the film put a refreshing twist on a tired genre by focusing on a group of dancers enrolled at a New York City Ballet Academy. Though the film failed to land with critics, it remains a cult classic to this day - and it’s not hard to understand its appeal. The film, which stars Amanda Schull and a young Zoë Saldana, is a dance lovers dream; jam packed from start to finish with energetic dance sequences that will leave you with the strange desire to find a dance studio near you and enroll ASAP.

#6: “Step Up” (2006)

At the time of its release, few could have predicted that this film would spawn four sequels and a television series; but something about “Step Up’” connected with people and has continued to ever since. The film stars future husband and wife duo Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum, the latter of whom proved that his dance skills were no fluke when he starred in “Magic Mike” and its sequel. A classic tale of star crossed lovers from different ends of the social spectrum that embrace each other’s differences, “Step Up” is at its core, all about dancing; and boy is it fun to watch!

#5: “Saturday Night Fever” (1977)

Featuring a star-making performance from John Travolta and a banging, Bee Gees heavy soundtrack that makes standing still a virtual impossibility, “Saturday Night Fever” is the ultimate ‘70s dance flick. However to say that “Saturday Night Fever” is all about dancing would be a gross misinterpretation, as the film deals with a number of hard-hitting issues that include rape and abortion. But don’t let that scare you away! The music is fantastic and the dance sequences are even better. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

#4: “Billy Elliot” (2000)

One of the most critically acclaimed films to make our list, “Billy Elliot” was nominated for 13 BAFTAs (winning three), and was also nominated for three Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. The film, which is about an 11 year old boy from a working class British neighborhood who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer despite being ridiculed at every turn, is as touching as its description would lead you to believe. Starring Jamie Bell as the titular Billy, the film is both a brilliant dance flick and a tightly woven drama that will have you laughing, crying and cheering before the credits role.

#3: “Flashdance” (1983)

“Flashdance” is about Alex, a steel worker by day and stripper by night, who dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Filled with awesome ‘80s getups and a soundtrack to match, this sexy romance flick was a box-office smash that nowadays is noted for its plethora of steamy dance scenes, foremost among them being the iconic and oft-parodied strip club scene wherein Alex douses herself in water. While some elements in the film have aged less than gracefully, that doesn’t mean that viewers can’t still enjoy the choreography or skill that was put into each and every one of the its dance scenes.

#2: “Footloose” (1984)

Is there anything better than ‘80s-era Kevin Bacon? “Footloose” is the story of a big city teenager who moves to a small town only to discover that the local pastor has banned dancing! Much like our previous entry, the plot of this film probably wouldn’t fly with modern audiences, but thanks to the era in which it was released, it gets an automatic pass as unadulterated nostalgic fun! The dance scenes are retrospectively hilarious, with Bacon’s warehouse solo dance session leading the pack. However, they still bring a smile to our faces every time we revisit the film, and as such, as far as dance movies are concerned, “Footloose” remains one of the greats.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Happy Feet” (2006)

“Save the Last Dance” (2001)

“The Red Shoes” (1948)

#1: “Dirty Dancing” (1987)

No dancing movie makes you want to move quick like this one. Spending the summer at a lavish resort in the Catskill Mountains, Frances “Baby” Houseman becomes enamored with bad-boy dance instructor Johnny Castle. Lead actors Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, who was at the peak of his swoon-worthiness, have so much chemistry it would make a science teacher blush. The film shuffles through sexy dance scenes like playing cards, punctuated by a climatic sequence that no doubt caused a plethora of ‘80s teens to try lifting their significant other over their head only to fail miserably. Now if we could all just pretend like the prequel and remake never happened!

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