Dance movies are almost always entertaining but the truly great ones leave their mark on us as viewers. Inspiring us to tug on dance shoes and enrol in a class, hit a club or just go wild in our living rooms, these are the top ten inspirational dance movies of all time:
Dirty Dancing (1987)
As perhaps the best-known, most-watched dance movie ever, Dirty Dancing received a lukewarm response from critics on its release but instant, overwhelming adulation from fans worldwide. Despite being almost 30 years old, this coming-of-age story of love and dance (dirty or otherwise) continues to sell millions of copies each year.
Footloose was more about rebelling against censorship and claiming the right to express yourself freely on a dancefloor than the steps themselves, but it’s a classic dance movie, that taught us all that we have the right, nay the duty, to dance!
Billy Elliot (2000)
As a young boy, Billy Elliot ‘loves to boogie’ but his passion doesn’t conform to the working class expectations of his family and society at large. With help, he finds the courage to challenge those expectations and follow his dreams. His story struck a chord with audiences and made such an impact that since release, this film has been credited with inspiring legions of male dancers to learn ballet.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Combining a great story with fantastic dancing and an incredible soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever spawned disco moves that spread across dancefloors like wildfire, worldwide. Chances are that even if you’ve never seen this movie, you’ve pulled off a few moves from it.
Step Up (2006)
By blending classic and contemporary dance and music genres, Step Up showed that regardless of social class and personal style, there is a place in the world of dance for everyone.
Alex Owens is a welder by day and a stripper by night but in her heart, she’s a dancer. Despite being terrified of not being experienced or good enough to audition for a dance school, we see her overcome her fears and realise her dancing dreams.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
No list of the most inspirational dance movies of all time would be complete without a mention for one of the greatest dancers of cinematic history, Gene Kelly. Although he choreographed and led many showstopping dance scenes in his career, in this clip from Singin’ in the Rain he shows that when you dance – in any place, in any weather – it simply makes you happy.
Shall We Dance (2004)
Most dance movies feature young people finding freedom in dance and quite often, romantic love along the way but Shall We Dance is aimed at inspiring a more mature audience to fall in love with dance itself. The original film was made in Japan and was a huge success there, Hollywood picked up on the vibes and made their own version.
Anyone who’s ever taken part in dance classes has wished at some point that they could just bust loose and freestyle in the streets and [spoiler alert!] that’s exactly how this movie ends! Charting the ups and downs of aspiring dancers at the New York High School or Performing Arts, this movie is an absolute dance classic.
Many of the movies in this list have been adapted for the stage, but Grease began as a musical in theatres before becoming a legend in the history of dance movies. An instant smash with critics and audiences alike, it continues to be a crowd-pleaser more than 30 years later.
One for Luck – TAP
Max Washington (Gregory Hines – the King of tap) – is an ex-con just released from jail, is a veteran burglar, but he’s also a talented tap dancer. Reuniting with his girlfriend, Amy (Suzzanne Douglas), Max is approached by her father, Little Mo (Sammy Davis Jr.), about a new dance production… Watch the “Challenge” scene to get a taste, you’ll be booking tap lesson straight away!
Feeling inspired? Then get dancing! Whether you prefer to pair your dance shoes with a leotard, dress or tutu in a class, nightclub or at home, you can find all the dancewear and accessories you need online at the Dance Depot.