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Dance Films: Ten Mythical Movies about Dance

By Sophia, published on 24/04/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > Our Selection of the Best Dance Movies for Dancers

Not going backwards is advancement, of a sort. And man should learn to walk before he can dance – Alexander Pope.

Being two entirely separate artistic expressions, dance and film have more in common than one might think.

For one, many neophytes engage in dance classes, enter a conservatory or even dedicate their lives to dance after seeing an inspiring film about the wonders of dance. Drama, musicals, and adventure: there is a dance for every genre.

Discover now the ten must-see dance movies prior to signing up for your dance lessons.

Flashdance

This film broke the dam, flooding screens with subsequent movies about dance Let your freestyle dance audition be as fiery as Alex’s in Flashdance! Source: Movie title

Director: Adrian Lynne

Starring:

  • Jennifer Beals as Alex Owens
  • Michael Noury as Nick Hurley
  • Lilia Scala as Hannah Long
  • Sunny Johnson as Jeanie Szabo
  • Kyle T. Heffner as Richie Plastic
  • Lee Ving as Johnny C.

Synopsis: Working as a welder in a factory, Alex dances at night in a club called Mawby’s Bar. Stolidly refusing her boss, Nick’s advances, she dreams of entering a prestigious school of dance to establish herself as an artist.

Initially overwhelmed by the application process, Alex nevertheless finds herself with an audition. Realising that Nick has pulled those strings for her, she is furious – but auditions all the same.

Dance styles featured: ballet, in the initial audition sequence; contemporary dance, modern jazz dancing, and standard jazz.

Where to find it: the DVD can be had for just under £6 new, on Amazon

Step Up Franchise

Directors: Anne Fletcher, John M. Chu, Scott Speer, Trish Sie and others

Cast:

  • Channing Tatum as Tyler Gage
  • Jenna Dewan as Nora Clark
  • Robert Offman as Chase Collins
  • Briana Evigan as Andie West
  • Adam Sevani as Moose Alexander III
  • Rick Malambri as Luke Katcher
  • Sharni Vinson as Natalie

Synopsis: this film franchise follows the general lines of the previously discussed film.

The protagonist remains dubious of his talent and accomplishments in the face of everyone else’s pedigrees but ends up leading the dance troupe to victory in the end.

Whether for its line dancing or pairs dancing sequences, Step Up 2 remains the most popular of the franchise.

Featured dance styles: hip-hop, ballroom dancing, jazz dancing, and step dancing.

Where to find it: Currently, Step Up 4 – Miami Heat is streaming on Netflix. Other installments can be found on Amazon for a range of prices, depending on whether you want the whole series or just one film.

Saturday Night Fever

Jazz up your Salsa dancing at your local dance club! Does your Salsa dancing look quite so saucy? Source: movie title

Directed by: John Badham

Starring:

  • John Travolta as Tony Manero
  • Karen Lynn Gorney as Stephanie Mangano
  • Barry Miller as Bobby
  • Joseph Cali as Joey
  • Paul Pape as Double J
  • Donna Pescow as Annette

Synopsis: in 1977, young New York dancer Tony Manero seeks to escape the boredom of Brooklyn life by hitting the dance floor every Saturday night at The Odyssey.

Envied by men and wanted by women throughout the disco, this smoke and mirrors artist must confront the tide of emotion that feeds his talent.

So impactful is this film that it has become an essential chapter in the history of dance!

Where you can find it: on Amazon, for £5.99.

Billy Elliot

Stand proud in the face of ridicule, as Billy Elliot did! It is important to find which style of dance calls to your soul, as in Billy Elliot Source: movie title

Director: Stephen Daldry

Starring:

  • Jamie Bell in the title role
  • Julie Waters as Sandra Wilkinson
  • Gary Lewis as Jackie Elliot
  • Jamie Draven as Tony Elliot
  • Jean Heywood as Grandma

Synopsis: In 1984, 11-year old Billy Elliot shared his home in the North of England with his father, brother and ailing grandmother – who once dreamt of being a dancer.

One day, during his weekly boxing lessons – which he abhors, Billy finds himself sharing the room with ballet dancers.

Billy quickly realizes that dance is his true passion, running the risk of mockery and judgment of his family and townspeople.

If you love ballet, this one is not to be missed!

Dance Style: Ballet Dance (classical dance).

Where to find it: under £7 new on Amazon.

If you have a passion for ballet, have a read of our post on the most famous ballets.

Black Swan

Benjamin Millepied mainstreamed his talent for dance in this film Black Swan is a documentary-fiction about the rigours a ballet dancer must endure Source: movie title

Directed by: Darren Aronovsky

Starring:

  • Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers
  • Mila Kunis as Lily
  • Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy
  • Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers
  • Winona Ryder as Beth MacIntyre
  • Benjamin Millepied as the Prince

Synopsis: A ballerina with the New York Ballet, Nina learns that auditions for the main role of Swan Lake are open. The only problem is that although she is perfect as the White Swan, she cannot seem to represent the dark side of the Black Swan.

Because of the pressure of the role, Nina will eventually lose her mind and no longer know what is real…

Footnote: The real world’s best dance choreographers are far from being as harsh as Vincent Cassel!

Featured dance style: Classical dance.

Where you can find it: a new DVD, for under five pounds, on Amazon.

Singin’ in the Rain

Directed by: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen

Starring:

  • Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood
  • Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden
  • Donald O’Connor as Cosmo Brown
  • Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont
  • Millard Mitchel as RF Simpson

Synopsis: In 1927, Don and Lina are the undisputed stars of silent cinema. However, the arrival of the talkies throws their bankability as movie stars into question, especially because, despite appearances, they hate each other in real life.

What’s more, Lina is cursed with an unpleasantly nasal voice! Don’s best friend, Cosmo, then has an idea: replace Lina with Kathy, of whom Don is enamored with.

Dance Styles: Tap dance, lyric dance, ballroom dance, jazz dance, Broadway dance.

Availability: £8 new, on Amazon.

Magic Mike

Directed by Stephen Soderbergh

Starring:

  • Channing Tatum as Michael Lane
  • Alex Pettyfer as Adam
  • Cody Horn as Brooke
  • Matt Bomer as Ken
  • Olivia Munn as Joanna
  • Joe Manganiello as Big Richie

Synopsis: surviving on odd jobs, Mike, 30, rounds out his meager pay by performing in a strip club under the name Magic Mike. Although much appreciated by the female audience, Mike’s side job worries his sister, who warns him of the dangers of night work.

If the film and its music to dance does not make you move your body, we’d be hard-pressed to say what could!

Dance styles featured: stripping, cabaret jazz, pole dancing.

Where to get it: for around £6 on Amazon.

Footloose

Directed by: Herbert Ross

Starring:

  • Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack
  • Lori Singer as Ariel Moore
  • Dianne Wiest as Vi Moore
  • John Lithgow as Shaw Moore
  • Sarah Jessica Parker as Rusty

Synopsis: uprooted from his native Chicago, Ren finds himself stifled in the religious community his family relocated to. Even more, culture-shocking: the pastor – the most influential person in town, opposes music and dancing in any form, considering both immoral.

Ren rallies the community’s youth to protest for their senior prom, with one surprising ally taking the lead, in the uprising and in his heart.

Featured dance styles: freestyle, krumping, grooving.

Availability: £6 for a copy of the 1984 DVD version on Amazon. You can also purchase its 2011 remake for around the same price.

Fame

The Fame dancers had to undergo a rigorous audition process Will you too find Fame as a dancer? Source: movie title

Directed by: Alan Parker

Starring:

  • Irene Cara as Coco Hernandez
  • Lee Curreri as Bruno Martelli
  • Laura Dean as Lisa Monroe
  • Paul McCrane as Montgomery MacNeil
  • Barry Miller as Ralph Garci

Synopsis: the plot revolves around the adventures of several dancers seeking enrolment at the High School for Performing Arts in New York City. The audition process yields few entries.

For Coco, Lisa, Hilary and Montgomery, over time, the film reveals their dreams of fame, a pinnacle that only few ever achieve.

This film is a showcase of dance talent!

Featured dance styles: ballet, contemporary, modern and lyrical

Where to find it: On Amazon, for the low price of £3; or you could seek the updated 2009 version for just 40p more.

Moulin Rouge

Satine's great beauty drives her suitors wild in this cabaret-style dance story Follow this romantic story, set to a background of cabaret dancing Source: Movie title

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Starring:

  • Nicole Kidman as Satine
  • Ewan McGregor as Christian
  • James Broadbent as Harold Zidler
  • Richard Roxburgh as the Duke of Monroth
  • John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, Christian, a young poet, decides to write a piece for the Cabaret du Moulin Rouge under the advice of Toulouse Lautrec. During his meeting with Satine, the protagonist of the dance show, Christian develops romantic feeling fo her despite her being coveted by the Duke of Monroth, a wealthy man wishing to acquire the Moulin Rouge.

Featured dance styles: cabaret, can-can.

Where to find it: a new DVD can be purchased for just under £4 on Amazon

Whether beginner level, intermediate level or advanced level: you will invariably find a feature film adapted to your abilities and aspirations for dance; your desires and your artistic tastes.

Should you be preparing for a performance in dance, a dancing party or even a ball, there are dozens of films to inspire your dance moves.

Parting shot: which dance movie is the line “Nobody puts baby in the corner” drawn from?

You got it: Dirty Dancing!

Honorable mention for dance films go to:

  • Shall We Dance? Featuring ballroom and Latin dancing
  • Julia Stiles’ Save the Last Dance highlights the fusion of ballet and hip-hop
  • Dance With Me, a romantic drama exposing ballet and Latin dancing
  • You Got Served, a drama involving a street dance competition
  • Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary exploring New York City children learning ballroom dancing

Enough talk about dancing; to your leotards… or unitards, as you prefer!

If you enjoyed this article, why not take a look at our blog on famous quotations about dance?

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