Dancing has always been a movie metaphor for celebrating your spirit and following your dreams. I think that is why shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and even the cheesy ones like “So You Think You Can Dance?” are so successful right now.
So I started thinking about all the great dance movies of years gone by. Here is a list of my favorite and most inspiring movies of all time. I didn’t count Broadway musicals adapted to screen, so that leaves out classics like “West Side Story” and “Chicago,” but I still had plenty of interesting choices to consider. Feel free to add to my list by posting to in the comment box below.
10. “Singing in the Rain”: Maybe it’s not technically a dance movie, but it certainly has some of the most famous dance numbers ever put on celluloid.
9. “White Nights”: Okay, this is actually a pretty lame movie—not to mention outdated—but the dance sequences between Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov are unparalleled.
8: “Fame”: The 80s were full of awesome, yet cheesy, dance movies and this idealized picture of life at a performing arts school in New York had energy and sass in addition to all the camp.
7. “Stomp The Yard”: Again, maybe not the best plot line but some amazing dance sequences featuring some of the folks from that hit off-Broadway show “Stomp.”
6. “Footloose”: Come on, despite the hokey storyline, no one can outdo Kevin Bacon dancing to a peppy Kenny Loggins soundtrack
5. “Moulin Rouge”: Again, perhaps it doesn’t fit the mold of a true dance movie, but that’s why I liked it. The dance numbers defied convention and were full of razzle-dazzle.
4. “Mad Hot Ballroom”: One of my favorite documentaries of all time, this movie looks at a ballroom competition for inner-city kids and how it helps them rise above their circumstances.
3. “Billy Elliot”: Boxing and ballet go toe to toe as a young Irish lad must choose between the two. It is a great story about family loyalty and going against expectations. (I also can’t wait to see the Broadway version!)
2. “Dirty Dancing”: You thought this would be the top pick, didn’t you? Yes, Patrick Swayze made girls—and women—of all ages swoon in one of the best coming-of-age stories with some of the funniest—as well as sexiest—dance numbers ever. Oh yeah, and one of the all-time classic catch phrases.
1. “Strictly Ballroom”: One of my favorite movies period, and maybe director Baz Luhrmann’s best. It takes a cheeky, eccentric look at one family who is completely absorbed by the world of ballroom dance. It also reminds that a life lived in fear is “a life half lived.”