Top Ten Dance Movies of the 80's, 90's, and Today

Nov 21, 2006 (Updated Mar 19, 2007)

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The Bottom Line Get out there and shake your bon-bon with these movies!

Every once in a while, a girl just wants to pretend she is a prima ballerina, or a sexy tango champion, or a can-can dancer at the Moulin Rouge. When I get such an urge, I pop in one of these movies. My top ten listed below may not be the best movies ever made, but they sure are the best for putting me in the mood to boogie!

*Note – These are modern movies from the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s. Older, classic dance films would be a different top ten list, one I may write someday.

10. Chicago - (2002) - This movie offers wonderful dancing, music, and all that jazz. Catherine Zeta-Jones steals the show as the sexy Thelma Kelly, while Renee Zellweger plays waiflike Roxie Hart. Roxie is arrested for bumping off her lover, which is apparently very common in these days. The cast of Chicago sings and dances its way through murder and courtroom drama with a surprising amount of fun. Dance highlights include Roxie and Thelma’s bar room performances along with the edgy “Cell Block Tango”.

9. Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery - (1997) – Oh, behave! Big, colorful, dance numbers will definitely make you want to shag, baby! Mike Meyers has a surprising amount of rhythm as secret agent Mike Meyers. All three of Austin’s movies have quite a bit of dancing, but I consider the first one to the most classic and memorable.

8. Rent - (2005) - Rent is one of my very favorite movies, period. This story of seven friends living in New York always makes me want to get up and dance. Rent mixes a wide variety of dance styles, including modern, tango, and strip-club style. My favorite scene is “La Vie Boheme”, a bright, colorfully choreographed number that includes the whole cast. Wilson Jermaine Heredia’s performance of “Today for You” always gets me tapping my feet as well. I only own about three CDs, but this soundtrack is one of them. It makes me bop around while driving in my car!

7. Flashdance - (1983) – You know you love the idea of a welder/exotic dancer making good, and this film gives it to you. Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) delights with off the shoulder sweatshirts, innovative dance movies, and a spunky attitude. I guarantee you’ll want to put on your best pair of stirrup pants and dance around to “What a Feeling.” The film’s last scene is, of course, its best and most famous.

6. Center Stage - (2000) - This movie is a perfect pick for anyone who has ever wanted to be a ballerina. I personally only made it through a year of ballet at the YMCA, but its still fun to fantasize about. Amanda Schull stars as Jody Sawyer, a wannabe ballerina at the American Ballet Academy. The film addresses all the pressures that come with professional dancing, including extreme competition to be thin and be the best. The dance scenes are the real reason I watch, particularly Jody’s starring turn in the innovative ballet toward the end of the film. This movie is a guilty pleasure as far as the sometimes cheesy plot goes, but probably the best ballet movie I’ve ever scene.

5. Coyote Ugly - (2000) – This sexy movie in its bar setting teaches us you can’t fight the moonlight. The Coyote Ugly saloon offers dancing bartenders and hard alcohol, both in this movie and in real life. I’ve been a couple of times in real life and I can tell you that the dancing in this movie is far superior. A thin plot holds together plenty of fun, funky dancing scenes starring Piper Perabo, Izabella Miko, and Bridget Moynahan. This movie makes me want to go out and party!

4. Footloose - (1984) – I’ve seen the play this film is based on in two different theaters, but actually enjoy the movie the most. Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) stars as a newcomer to a very uptight town. Dance, music, and generally fun have been banned. Ren has just gotta dance, and so has slightly slutty pastor’s daughter Ariel Moor (Lori Singer). You just know this set-up is guaranteed to lead us on a voyage of drama and self-discovery for the whole town. Dancing scenes are great here, due in part to an awesome soundtrack featuring “Footloose”, “Holding Out for a Hero,” and “Almost Paradise.”

3. Save the Last Dance - (2001) – I can’t resist Save the Last Dance. I suspect this is in large part because Sean Patrick Thomas is ridiculously hot as Derek Reynolds. Derek serves as the love interest of one-time ballerina Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles), and the chemistry between the two is quite convincing. Pity that Derek is quickly jilted in the sequel, but that’s another story. Save the Last Dance offers not only hip-hop dancing but also ballet, including a fun combination of the two dance styles. I love the club scenes and this movie’s willingness to address some grittier themes.

2. Moulin Rouge! - (2001) - This truly unique movie is jam packed with dancing. I love the bright, colorful dance scenes at the Moulin Rouge. Can Can, anyone? Satine (Nicole Kidman) makes a living with her highly sexual dancing and singing, but everyone dances here. This includes the decidedly unsexy Duke (Richard Roxburgh) in his truly hilarious “Like a Virgin” number. Moulin Rouge! requires a few viewings to fully appreciate its rich color and busy scenes.

1. Dirty Dancing - (1987) – Here it is, the Best Dance Movie of the last forty years and probably ever! This film starring Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman makes you want to believe in romance. Dirty dancing offers viewers the moral that love can overcome class differences. All you need is dancing! Dirty Dancing is crammed with awesome dance scenes, including traditional ballroom styles and, of course, “dirtier” styles. The dirty dancing isn’t all that dirty by today’s standards. The ultimate dancing scene is the grand finale featuring the song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” Just thinking about it makes me want to talk my husband into doing lifts with me.

*Check out my Top Ten Movies Ever! Are they yours? Probably not.

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