Our Top 10 Dance Film Picks
There are so many great movies about dancing, that picking a final top ten is almost impossible. Some popular movies, such as the Step Up series and Magic Mike, didn’t make the grade as they haven’t yet proven their longevity; others like Chicago are best saved for the stage. The ones that are on the list are largely considered to be classics.
If you want to feel good about life and be inspired to dance, these top ten dance movies will move you.
1. The Full Monty (1997)
Technically this film is about stripping, rather than perfect dance steps, but it stands for everything we love about learning to dance – trying something different, taking a risk, bonding with new friends and discovering a lot about yourself in the process.
2. Billy Elliot (2000)
A film about a misunderstood working-class British boy wanting to do ballet doesn’t sound like an obvious crowd-pleaser, but the story is as heart-warming as it is funny and gritty. It showcases the journey that dance can take you on, both personally and in your relationships with others.
3. Strictly Ballroom (1992)
This was Baz Luhrmann’s film debut and it displays the vivid approach to a subject that we have come to know and love from the director in his subsequent films. In this case it’s all about Australia’s competitive ballroom dancing scene. The story is a little predictable – hero turns a mousey, bespectacled beginner into a dazzling competitor against the tyranny of the pedantic authorities – but the filmography of the fancy footwork more than makes up for any story failings.
4. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
A white flared suit, a glitter ball, a disco dancing competition and lots of statuesque pointing – dance films don’t get much better than this. With John Travolta as the king of the dance floor and a killer Bee Gees soundtrack, the gritty plot of love, lust, rejection and betrayal is almost irrelevant.
5. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Famous for that dance lift and the line embedded in contemporary film folklore, ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner,’ the plot doesn’t just focus on a professional dancer preparing a beginner for competition, it deals with many confronting realities of life; a botched abortion, class divides, falling in love and following your heart.
7. Footloose (1984)
This movie is actually more about preaching than dancing as it features Kevin Bacon as the rebellious city-slicker who upsets small-town America by defying the oppressive ban on rock music and dancing. Still, it warrants a place in the top ten dance movies because it’s a cultural icon of the 1980s and boasts one of the best on-screen dance scenes to the eponymous title song by Kenny Loggins.
8. Flashdance (1983)
Ok, so it’s horribly dated, but this bizarre tale of a woman being a welder by day and a stripper by night in order to follow her passion of being in a proper dance troupe is so cheesy and predictable, that many can’t help but still love it – ‘What a feeling!’
9. Save the Last Dance (2001)
There may not be originality in the tale of two opposite worlds colliding – an aspiring ballerina and a street-wise hip-hop dancer from the hood – but this inspirational film deals with more than just dancing; grief from the loss of a mother and breaking free from a life of crime.
10. Take the Lead (2006)
Inspired by a true story, this film mixes classic and modern dance styles to tell the story of a teacher who helps a group of troublemakers from a rough part of the Bronx build a better life for themselves. Antonio Banderas as the teacher makes a charismatic dancer and carries the film.