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Film Industry

The Best Dance Movies – Our Guide

Photograph of the blog post author, Sophia Atkinson

Sophia Atkinson


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If you think you’ve exhausted Netflix or are looking for your next hit on Prime, look no further than this article of our absolute favourite dance movies!

We’ve got classics, 80s dance movies, killer soundtracks and dance icons for kids, all the way through to current releases. What are we waiting for? Hit it!

Top 10 Dance Movies

In no particular order, here is our hand-selected pick of the absolute best dance movies of all time.

Hopefully, it gives you some inspiration for some seriously good dance films to watch!

1. Flashdance (1983)

A quirky plot, post-punk chic, and toe-tapping routines made this Pittsburgh dance movie about an 18-year-old welder/nightclub dancer, a massive hit.

The film was based on the real-life story of Maureen Marder (a dancer who was previously a construction worker) who received a paltry $2,300 while Flashdance went on to make over $150m!

Released in 1983, the must-watch dance movie made Jennifer Beals, then a teenager, a household name. Beals, however, performed none of the dance routines the film is so famous for! A combination of three women – two dancers and a gymnast – brought the choreography to life.

The title track ‘Flashdance…What A Feeling’ went on to win an Oscar. Despite the fact that the singer, Irene Cara, wrote it in minutes in the car on the way to the recording studio!

2. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Undoubtedly one of the best dance movies on Amazon Prime. Dirty Dancing beautifully combines gratuitous montages, 60s dance moves, and steamy on-screen chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.

Although often better remembered for the line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” and the famous lift scene, the film also has a legendary soundtrack. ‘Do You Love Me’ – The Contours (the original mashed potato dance move), ‘Love Man’ – Otis Redding, ‘She’s Like the Wind’ – Patrick Swayze.

3. Happy Feet (2006)

A great family dance movie for kids, this visually dazzling animated treat is unashamed environmental propaganda through dance and we’re here for it!

The film’s baby emperor penguin protagonist, Mumble, can’t attract a mate by singing like his other friends and family. However, he discovers an incredible aptitude for tap-dancing which brings together the whole tribe.

Each number is so catchy, you’ll find yourself in awe at how well animated penguins can tap!

4. Hairspray (2007)

We couldn’t forget this tongue-in-cheek classic. Both the 1988 and 2007 versions have seriously feel-good dance routines. Incorporating yet more 60s bops with the marked switch from cutesy romance, to a bold manifesto for racial integration.

The film’s big band finale, ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’, is a tribute to Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High’. The song demands constant high energy. Pushing dancers and singers to the limit with increasing key signature shifts and lengthy ensemble choreography.

5. Step Up 2 The Streets (2008)

Incredibly slick sequencing and dance routines make a tired underdog story come to life in Step Up 2 The Streets.

Famous for hot soundtracks, the Step Up hip hop dance movie franchise showcased a charismatic and talented young Channing Tatum as a stunning lead.

The franchise is responsible for a host of the most popular dance movies on Netflix. The second film’s eye-catching, dramatic choreography in the rain to groove-fuelled noughties hip hop is impressive for both its filming and the quality of the performers. 

6. Billy Elliot (2000)

A timely reminder of the power of collective action and community. Billy Elliot is a timeless, much-loved story of a young, working-class boy from a Durham mining village who dreams of being a ballet dancer.

While his dad and brother are caught up in their union’s strike action (1984-85), Billy is learning to pirouette and working towards an audition for the Royal Ballet School.

Elton John’s soundtrack beautifully captures the emotional, the political, and the heart-warming tale.

7. Gold Diggers Of 1935 (1935)

One of the old but gold must-watch dance movies. Gold Diggers Of 1935 was a film with a lot of firsts.

Busby Berkeley’s choreography drives this screen delight. In which a rich socialite finds herself hosting an all-singing, all dancing stage show in her home.

The film’s iconic ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ choreography is led by Dick Powell and Wini Shaw. Additionally, it features a huge tap dance ensemble performing Berkeley’s geometric patterns with military precision.

This scene, often called a “film within a film”, is widely regarded as the most memorable onstage tap dance routine ever devised. 

8. West Side Story (1961)

A dance-driven, edgy, and often violent musical reinvention of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is a class act.

Bernstein’s haunting tritone motif ripples through the soundtrack. Foreshadowing the tragedy to come as the explosive energy of young love and gang violence collide.

Jerome Robbins was responsible for choreographing the jazz-ballet, based on the 1957 Broadway hit.

The film went on to win 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Finger clicking never looked so good!

9. Honey (2003)

Another excellent noughties hip hop dance movie. Honey is a sweet 2003 story of a working-class girl who dreams of making it as a professional music video dancer.

Although Honey Daniels does eventually ‘make it’, after seeing the darker sides of the industry, she decides to open up her own dance club and give back to young people in her neighborhood.

Jessica Alba leads the film to an inspiring finale with Yolanda Adams’ ‘I Believe’ to Laurieann Gibson’s slick choreography. 

10. Swing Time (1936)

A Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire classic, Swing Time was made a year after ‘Top Hat’ and just before ‘Shall We Dance’.

It comprised a stellar soundtrack of jazz standards with six Jerome Kern tunes including ‘Just The Way You Look Tonight’, ‘Swing Time’, and ‘A Fine Romance’!

“Lucky” Garnet – a groom-to-be, is soon distracted from his upcoming wedding by Rogers, his glamorous and talented dance instructor.

Made in 1936, the movie still feels as fresh as ever with impeccable moves from dancing’s most iconic double act. 

That Was Our Review Of The Best Dance Movies

So, there you have it! Our round up of the top ten best dance movies with the most infectious moves and the most contagious grooves.

It’s been a wild ride through the decade, and we think we’ve covered some real gems for all the family!

Did your favourite make it to the top?  Let us know in the comment section below! Most importantly, don’t forget to share this review across your socials and tag us @musicgateway! We love interacting with you all!

Are You A Filmmaker?

Are you an independent filmmaker, or interested in the crossover between music and film? Then check out our article on music supervisors. With our concierge and service and extensive music library, allow us to help you find music for your film. Sign up free for Мusic Gateway now!

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