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Top 10 Dance Movies

Top 10 Best Dance Movies (2011 List) - With ClipsRelax, you haven’t boogied backwards through a time-warp and woken up in 1984: Footloose really, truly is just out in movie theatres, albeit the new Craig Brewer-directed remake of Footloose. Still, perfect excuse for we at Movie-Moron to dust off our dancing shoes and take to the floor, as we shimmy our way through this list of the top best 10 dance movies.

10. Step Up (2006)

Step Up is the kind of movie that can make you feel very old, very quickly. To the jaundiced eye of just about every film critic under the sun, this tale of good-looking bad boy Channing Tatum teaming up with good-looking good girl Jenna Dewan to dance the night away appears entirely like a pile of cynical, formulaic twaddle. Yet young people, with their terrifyingly unpredictable young people-type behaviour, flocked to it in their droves, spawning two sequels. Somewhat ominously, a third is in the offing.

9. The Band Wagon (1953)

No way to compile a round-up of dance movies without featuring at least one appearance from the screen’s most legendary shoe-shuffler, Fred Astaire himself. And though The Band Wagon lacks the obvious appeal of Astaire being paired with his best-known co-star, Ginger Rogers (Cyd Charisse is no shabby replacement, mind), it is still an inventive, technicolour joy like almost no other.

8. Save the Last Dance (2001)

See Step Up above and apply all over again, with pretty much the only difference being that Save the Last Dance has vomited up just one sequel to date.

7. Anchors Aweigh (1945)

And if you have to include Astaire, then no excuse for not also making room for Gene Kelly, with the iconic scene of Kelly sharing screen time and dance moves with Jerry Mouse more than justifying the inclusion of this flick on our list.

6. The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Ginger Rogers makes an entirely deserved appearance in our run-down, with she featuring in this Depression-era musical that remains a cinematic treat to this day, thanks to songs like We’re In the Money, and especially the extraordinary dance sequences choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

5. Black Swan (2010)

Although a hefty box office hit that bought major awards recognition too, Black Swan was a movie which seemed to divide audience opinion quite sharply. Was Natalie Portman’s Nina little more than a one-note whiner? Was it all just overcooked soap opera? Or was it a darkly comic riot of high camp of the kind all too rarely seen on the big screen in recent years?

One thing’s for certain though, just about all of us would have paid money to have been privy to the phone call between director Darren Aronofsky and Winona Ryder: “Hi, Winona? This is Darren Aronofsky. I’m calling because I want YOU to be in my new movie!” “Oh, Darren! Thank you! That’s wonderful news!” “Yeah, I’ve got the perfect role for you. She’s a washed-up crackpot who sticks a knitting needle in her face because she can’t handle the fact she’s not top dog anymore… hello… hello, Winona… are you still there?” “[soft whimpering noise]

4. Flashdance (1983)

Chiefly recalled for the conceit of having a lead character who is a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night, as well as that Irene Cara-trilled, Oscar-garlanded theme song, Flashdance was a pivotal movie for several of its behind-the-camera participants.

Producers Simpson and Bruckheimer struck upon the high concept template that would serve them so well throughout the rest of the decade, while screenwriter Joe Eszterhas unfurled the schoolboy salacious style that would earn him a fortune too. Almost unthinkable now but Dawn Steel, the person in charge of Paramount Pictures, apparently wanted David Cronenberg to direct it.

3. Footloose (1984)

When it came to the young actor cast as the lead in Footloose, the question for Dawn Steel (yes, her again) was a simple, albeit crude one: “Is this guy f*ckable?”

Who, Kevin Bacon? Pah! Perish the very thought that anyone could even contemplate doubting the fleet-footed, flat-nosed charms of K-Bake himself, twinkle-toed titan of the movie trivia-related parlour game that he was, is and always will be.

2. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Having got the hump with him when they worked together on Red Dawn, Jennifer Grey was apparently left spitting nails when she found out that her co-star in Dirty Dancing was going to be none other than Patrick Swayze.

However bridges were rebuilt, resulting in crowd-pleasing movie history being made, most notably when his Johnny raises her Baby aloft, all to the fromage-scented strains of Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Sadly, the plan to have Swayze pay homage to this moment via a cameo in Zombieland was thwarted by the illness which ultimately led to his untimely death.

1. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Although since revealed as author-invented piffle, Nik Cohn’s magazine article ‘Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night’ was colourful and evocative enough for Bee Gees svengali Robert Stigwood to reckon it might make a wizard motion picture. And lo! A blockbuster was born!

Stigwood’s protégés duly went falsetto, the world went disco crazy, and leading man John Travolta went supernova (although his star would have started to wane by the time he donned John McEnroe headband to appear in camp-tastic sequel, Staying Alive, a movie directed by that doyen of dance, Sylvester Stallone).

What do you think are the best dance movies? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Saturday Night Fever is such a great movie. Has a much harder edge than I expected.

    I remember Kevin Bacon complaining in an interview that every time he went to a wedding reception the Footloose theme would mysteriously start up and people would gather around him expecting him to do the Footloose dance like some sort of performing monkey. So the first thing he’d do at a wedding was secretly pay the DJ not to play the record.

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  • sue tabashnik said

    This is a great list. How about One Last Dance with Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi? This rare look into the world of the dancer seen through the eyes of the dancer has exquisite dance scenes with Patrick and Lasa along with the theme that dreams can come true.

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  • gd smith said

    Blues Brothers is missing again. Even the cars in it can dance.

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    • Paul Martin said

      Man, never thought of the Blueses for this list. Love that movie.

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      • Sheridan Passell said
        Sheridan Passell

        There’s a difference between dance movies and musicals, Blues Brothers isn’t about the topic of dance specifically, it just has musical numbers in it.

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        • gd smith said

          According to everyone involved, the Blues Brothers was made as a musical. The cars were choreographed to the music. There are dance routines throughout the movie.
          OK it is not specifically a dance movie, but Black Swan and Saturday Night Fever aren’t really dance films either. The former is more like 1981 weird beard art-house/horror flick Possession than it is a dance movie. And the latter is really a gritty new york social realist drama that centres on dancing. So the Blues Brothers which features musical numbers and dance routines in the format of a musical is more of a dance movie than either. It certainly has more in common with the Footloose, school of “we’ll put the show on right here in the barn school” of feel good high jinks.

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  • LaraP said

    This is actually one of the most interesting “best of” dance movies lists I’ve seen. Great job including some of the true classics. I’d also include ‘All That Jazz,’ ‘The Turning Point’ and ‘Center Stage’ to this list. All of these should be included on any list of the best dance movies ever made, IMO. Re: Gene Kelly – I’d also include ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ Brilliant dancing!

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  • Selly Salihovic said

    Good list but Footloose (2011) should have been #1. Amazing movie with Kenny Wormald as Ren. Did a great job with acting and especially with dancing. LOVED his Boston accent! (As do i)

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    • Clifford Nelson said

      Sorry, does not come close. Not near the impace of the 1st movie, and is not rated that high either. If it had not been for the original Footloose, would have hardly been noticed.

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  • Clifford Nelson said

    I am sorry, but the Japanese Shall We Dance belongs here.

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