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Top 10 Iconic Fred Astaire Dance Scenes

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Owen Maxwell
Sometimes you just want to watch Fred Astaire dance on screen. For this list we're looking at Astaire's most impressive footwork that still blows us away to this day. We're basing our picks on a mix of fun choreography, clever camera work and the over-the-top energy that makes all of Fred's moves a joy to watch. We’ve included movies like “Follow the Fleet”, “The Band Wagon” and more!

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Top 10 Fred Astaire Dance Scenes

No matter what the situation called for, Fred Astaire always seemed to have shoes with wings. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Fred Astaire Dance Scenes.

For this list, we're looking at Astaire's most impressive footwork that still blows us away to this day. We're basing our picks on a mix of fun choreography, clever camera work, and the over-the-top energy that made all of Fred's moves a joy to watch.

#10: "Let Yourself Go"
"Follow the Fleet" (1936)

During shore leave, Baker and Sherry reunite only to find themselves in a couple's dance-off. While their fancy tapping starts off as a bit of fun, the duo really start showing off when they see another two dancers trying to outshine them. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers then start kicking and waving their bodies every which way they can. As the music speeds up, Astaire and Rogers mirror each other's moves, and even fit in some drunken stomps. While “Let's Face The Music and Dance” offers the pair much prettier sets, their chemistry in “Let Yourself Go” keeps us mesmerized.

#9: "The Shorty George"
"You Were Never Lovelier" (1942)
Bob and Maria's flirting gets so heated that they both hit the floor to do the “The Shorty George.” Rita Hayworth and Astaire bring a contagious energy to this already catchy song, and transition their singing right into a routine. Though Fred's audition dance was frantic enough for him to consider it one of his best solo routines, his coordination here with Rita is astounding. The choreography was so complex that it took more rehearsal time than all other dances in the movie put together. Through a blend of tap with several other styles, Hayworth and Astaire make “The Shorty George” their own.

#8: "Begin the Beguine"
"Broadway Melody of 1940" (1940)

Within seconds of stepping on stage, Clare and Johnny seamlessly sync their insanely elaborate rhythms with the band behind them. “Begin the Beguine” sees both actors follow each other while still maintaining their technicality and individual personality. Astaire and Eleanor Powell hilariously break off into different sections of the beat before introducing bizarre syncopations to the song. Right as the music cuts out, they speed things up and end up soloing so fast the band has to start a new song. The coordination to line up patterns as eccentric as these has us in awe.

#7: "Dem Bones Café"
"The Band Wagon" (1953)

After handfuls of gangsters stylishly dance their way into a bar, Fred Astaire decides to strut inside during this part of the “Girl Hunt Ballet” musical number. Cyd Charisse fights back with exaggerated moves of her own, turning the Dem Bones Café into a mimed battleground. While Fred and Cyd move similarly throughout the routine, their flashy interactions set this scene apart. The small gestures by the massive cast keep the visuals lively and remind viewers that this is gang warfare. Though “Dancing in the Dark” showed much more emotional depth, Astaire and Charisse go mental in this encounter toward the end of the film. By crafting comedy out of a tango, this sequence is pure entertainment.

#6: "You're All the World to Me"
"Royal Wedding" (1951)

Head over heels in love, Fred Astaire’s Tom starts dancing around his house to celebrate. His excitement gets so out of hand that he magically starts dancing on the wall. As he spins and jumps his way between the ceiling and other ends of the room, Astaire can't get over his partner's picture. A rotating set gives Fred the freedom to not only crawl, but pull off some colorful upside-down tapping, too. Despite the creative prop use in Astaire's hat rack dance, his physical comedy puts this scene on a whole other level. The ceiling dance has a timeless charm thanks to Astaire's imaginative use of space.

#5: "I'll Be Hard to Handle"
"Roberta" (1935)

Huck and Scharwenka keep teasing each other about their past until they suddenly find themselves dancing together. They mirror each other on continuously more complex solos and beats, with the rhythm picking up behind them. Astaire and Ginger Rogers turn their choreography into a slapstick standoff so entertaining, it doesn't need music. Their play fighting somehow incorporates a slap into their unusual rhythms as well. Astaire does pull off some fancy moves for “I Won't Dance”, but his chemistry with Rogers is more fun. With all the technical skills and amazing acting on display, “I'll Be Hard to Handle” is all about this pair’s personality and charisma.

#4: "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"
"Shall We Dance" (1937)

As Peter and Linda realize their romance has grown stale, they start using their pronunciations to show just how different they are. After trading verses with each other, they break into annoyed tapping on their roller skates. Through mixing elements of ice dance and ballet, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire create a uniquely quirky dance. The difficulty of the solos and tempo changes with their unusual shoes is only overshadowed by their contagious smiles. The rare combo of an iconic song with an impressive routine still has audiences coming back to “Let's Call the Whole Thing Off.”

#3: "Cheek to Cheek"
"Top Hat" (1935)

For their slow-dance, Jerry sings “Cheek to Cheek” while guiding Dale through glorious mansion sets. As the couple hit a private floor, their moves become much more dramatic without ever stopping for a second. Despite their elegant costumes, Ginger Rogers and Astaire also break into a brief synchronized tap. Fred and Ginger's coordinated spins and footwork have also helped immortalize this classic scene. Though this routine lacks the massive cast and solos of “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”, it's more intimate and personal. “Cheek to Cheek” still stands the test of time thanks to its romantic energy and memorable melodies.

#2: "Puttin' On the Ritz"
"Blue Skies" (1946)

With a cane in his hand, Fred Astaire goes for stylish choreography rather than something ridiculously technical. “Puttin' On the Ritz” sees Astaire performing in mock slow motion before treating his own cane like a dance partner. Fred’s moves and spins get faster, while his stick adds to the song's unique rhythms. After his cane magically flies back to his hands, a whole army of Astaires appear for a mix of copycat dancing and call-and-response solos. Considering it took Fred Astaire five weeks to get it right, it's no wonder “Puttin' On the Ritz” is one of his signature scenes.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

"Nice Work If You Can Get It"
"A Damsel in Distress" (1937)

"So Near and Yet So Far"
"You'll Never Get Rich" (1941)

"The Babbitt and the Bromide"
"Ziegfeld Follies" (1945)

#1: "Pick Yourself Up"
"Swing Time" (1936)

Lucky asks Penny for some dance help. Suddenly, the two are in a full-blown tap duet like it was nothing. For “Pick Yourself Up,” both Astaire and Rogers swap in and out of more traditional moves with viciously fast tap rhythms. With a simple polka core, the two are able to incorporate ridiculous solos without taking away from their larger dance. Even without a particularly unique song, the scene is one of the most famous in Astaire’s filmography. The flow of “Pick Yourself Up” is so natural that Fred and Ginger are able to dance right out the door before you realize it's all over.

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