Top 10 Kenny Ortega Dance Numbers



Top 10 Kenny Ortega Dance Numbers

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Watching these Kenny Ortega dance numbers has been the time of our lives. Our countdown includes "Pretty in Pink," "Hocus Pocus," "Newsies," and more!

Top 10 Kenny Ortega Dance Numbers

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kenny Ortega Dance Numbers,

For this list, we’ll be looking at this legendary choreographer and filmmaker’s greatest hits.

Did you know that Kenny Ortega was behind all these iconic dance numbers? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Try a Little Tenderness”
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)

Duckie’s impromptu dance to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” is arguably one of the best moments in this teen rom-com. In the 2000s, John Cryer revealed that all the script simply called for was an enthusiastic performance, so he never could have imagined that he’d end up collaborating with a well-established choreographer like Kenny Ortega. Together they came up with a performance that was so brilliant and hilarious that there was no way it wouldn’t make the final cut. In fact, it was so good that even though it would cause them to run over schedule, there was no way they could not include it.

#9: “We’re All in This Together”
“High School Musical” (2006)

When Ortega decided to get back into feature-length movies, “High School Musical'' didn't pan out as the low-key return he expected. The invigorating and incredibly catchy final number sees everyone come together to celebrate their various victories as well as put aside their differences to work as a team. Ortega recalled “a really special moment” whilst filming the epic finale, reportedly saying, “I believed what we had was gold and had the potential to really make some noise”. And he certainly wasn’t wrong, as to this day we challenge you to find any “High School Musical” fan who couldn’t nail the choreography in their sleep.

#8: “Rotten to the Core”
“Descendants” (2015)

It’s hard to imagine that at one time “Descendants” wasn’t even a musical. But when you have the Kenny Ortega on board, how could you not include musical numbers? And this track just happens to be his favorite. “Rotten to the Core” serves as an exposition and introduces us to our leads. There are several influences behind the choreography, including the musical “Oliver!. Ortega also said that they were aiming for similar energy to that of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. And it’s definitely a thrilling number that fills us with intrigue and ends in an incredible dance break.

#7: “I Put a Spell on You”
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Despite being a flop upon release, “Hocus Pocus” has since become the annual must-see Halloween movie. We imagine that this scene where the witches turn up at the City Hall Halloween Party might have something to do with that. The witches are played by three well-seasoned theater veterans who know a thing or two about enchanting their audiences. Ortega envisioned their performance almost like a drag act and encouraged the actresses to follow that vibe, giving us this flamboyant and upbeat number. It’s hardly surprising that the movie has garnered a cult following as it never fails to charm new generations of viewers.

#6: “Seize the Day”
“Newsies” (1992)

Even though the movie failed to impress the critics upon its initial release, there’s no denying that the musical numbers of this comedy-drama are something spectacular. Perhaps, this is why it eventually gained a cult following and was later revived as a Tony award-winning Broadway musical. “Seize the Day” is a memorable showstopper that showcases athletic and high-energy choreography studded with the most breathtaking acrobatic stunts. Davey uses this song to rile up the other Newsboys and prepare them to fight injustice. We might just be spectators on the sidelines, but this exhilarating performance practically has us marching toward the picket line too.

#5: “Strut”
“The Cheetah Girls 2” (2006)

Being shot in Barcelona, “The Cheetah Girls” sequel offered Ortega an opportunity to return to his Spanish roots and was reportedly a “dream come true” for him. He infused The Cheetah Girls’ commercial dance style with influences of Spanish culture, all whilst giving us some serious travel envy. They strut down “Las Rambla” and through “Parc Güell and, even have time for a dance break outside the “Palau Nacional”. Anytime we watch this scene we’re torn between getting up to dance along or booking the next available flight to Barcelona, just so we can take in the sights and get our strut on, too.

#4: “Chillin’ Like a Villain”
“Descendants 2” (2017)

After the success of the first movie, the sequel drew in an even larger viewership with audiences keen to catch up with our favorite young villain-turned-heroes. And boy, did they deliver! “Chillin’ Like a Villain” follows Evie, Carlos, and Jay as they give Ben some insider knowledge on how to get in touch with his dark side. The number has 80s-throwback nuances and even a nod to Michael Jackson, with whom Ortega had previously worked. It was shot in just one day and during a typhoon. Still, we imagine this was the dance that fans everywhere were keen to learn.

#3: “I Don’t Dance”
“High School Musical 2” (2007)

Combining sports and musical theater is a common thread throughout the High School Musical franchise. And just as well, as it brings two of Kenny Ortega’s passions together. In the song, “I Don’t Dance” Ryan convinces Chad to enter the Lava Springs talent show, arguing that baseball and dance aren’t all that different. In preparation for this scene, Ortega reportedly invited some real athletes to give pointers to the performers on their game. And in return, the actors gave them some tips on showmanship and performance, too. Eventually, both sides go for gold in one big winning ensemble dance break, which if you ask us is a perfect game.

#2: “King of New York”
“Newsies” (1992)

As a choreographer, it’s important to Ortega that his musical numbers contribute to the storytelling. This song marks the moment the Newsboys first see their story printed in the paper. This is why despite just one weekend to rehearse and only one day of shooting, he persisted with “The King of New York” number. The choreography’s fusion of styles was considered rather groundbreaking for its time. Once again he relies on the athleticism of his actors and dancers as they perform the animated routine whilst jumping on, off, and between the furniture in perfect synchronization.

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

The Drag Dance Show, “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” (1995)
Ortega Said, “Sometimes You Do Things Because You Know It’s Going to Be a Great Creative Experience”

“Mr. Roboto” (1983), Styx
Mr. Ortega Is Also Behind Some Iconic Music Videos, Like This One

“Material Girl” (1984), Madonna
Guess Who Choreographed This Marilyn Monroe-Inspired Number?

“Get’cha Head in the Game,” “High School Musical” (2006)
Ortega Got to See His Favorite Pastimes Come Together for This Routine

“Twist and Shout”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)
Did You Know Kenny Ortega Was Also Behind This Legendary Movie Moment?

#1: “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”
“Dirty Dancing” (1987)

Yes, it’s true. Kenny Ortega is behind one of the most iconic movie dances - and lifts - of all time. He and professional ballroom dancer and choreographer, Doriana Sanchez explored several styles of dance to come up with what became “Dirty Dancing”. And even working with a tiny budget didn’t deter them from creating something spectacular. This scene represents the climax of the movie where Johnny and Baby finally take the spotlight and really get the party started. It’s crazy now to think that the executives lacked faith in the movie back then, but we guess, nobody puts Kenny Ortega in the corner!