Top 10 Dance Films


We’re gearing up excitedly here at the Peccadillo office for the release of the powerful and emotional, TEST which is out now On-Demand and from July 28th on DVD.  The film, directed by Chris Mason Johnson, features many beautifully filmed and electrifying contemporary dance sequences, so we thought it only fitting that we present to you a list of the top 10 best dance films to watch in readiness. So put on those dancing shoes, grab your leotard and get watching.

N.B Peccadillo Pictures is not responsible for any injury or damage to property whilst enjoying these films…

Our intern, Priscilla put this great list together – so what do you think on the selection?

10. Flashdance (1983)


Flashdance is memorable purely for its explosive and fast-paced dance sequences performed in part by The L Word’s Jennifer Beal to upbeat synth pop music by Giorgio Moroder.  Although it is well known that the dance scenes including the climatic audition sequence were controversially performed mostly by uncredited doubles like French dancer Marine Jahan and even a male break-dancer  called ‘Crazy Legs’.

9. Step Up (2006)


Step Up is a dance musical that tells the rather formulaic story of a troublesome teen Tyler Gage ( a macho Channing Tatum) from the Baltimore slums who redeems himself through his dancing abilities.  Plot aside Tatum can really dance, and he pops and locks and handles complex street dance choreography from director Ann Fletcher with flair and ease.

8. Save the Last Dance (2001)


Save the Last Dance manages to go beyond teen dance film clichés by being a surprisingly involving film about race and class with great leads in Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas. And there are fun and naturalistic dance sequences which see Stiles’ Sara, a promising ballerina gradually learning how to dance hip hop with the help of Thomas’ Derek (and they’re not bad for non-professional dancers).

7. Dirty Dancing (1987)


Dirty Dancing isn’t the most original of films but has a special place in the dance film canon. Again it is not really about the plot which is unimportant. It really is more about the leads who dance partnered dances like Mambo and Showcase with an exuberance, charisma and natural ability, both were trained dancers, and of course the catchy and nostalgic 60’s and 80’s music.

6. Billy Elliot (2000)


Set in Durham 1984 during the mine strikes, it tells the tale of a plucky young working-class boy from Durham (Jamie Bell) who secretly decides to become a ballet dancer when his miner dad (Gary Lewis) wants him to box.  It’s another story of determination against the odds but is more engaging for playing against gender stereotypes. Whilst Bell himself (a trained dancer) does a great job at conveying Billy’s struggle to be the great dancer he is by the end.

5. Saturday Night Fever (1977)


That iconic white disco suit, that Bee Gees soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever has become a classic depiction of the 70s disco era. The young John Travolta as Brooklynite Tony Manero is a great dancer and dominates the disco floor in an effort to transcend his suburban everyday life.  The final disco competition doesn’t take up much screen time but it’s the on everyone remembers for good reason.

4. Strictly Ballroom (1992)


Baz Luhrmann’s successful debut worked not just because of its flamboyant rumba dance sequences with Scott (Paul Mercurio) and Fran (Tara Morice), but because it was not afraid to poke fun at the dance film genre. The characters make the film, being strange dance obsessives for whom winning the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix State Championships is their single goal in life.

3. Singin’ In the Rain (1952)


Gene Kelly was one of the original great dancer/actors and his performance in the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain could not be bettered. He personified ease and playfulness and his ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ dance number is a sequence that is rightly iconic with those joyful foot clapping leaps and use of the umbrella as a prop. Whilst supporting actor Donald O’ Connor also astounds in numbers like ‘Make ‘em Laugh’.

2. Top Hat


No dance film list could be complete without referencing the wonderful contribution of the work of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The pair became synonymous with elegance, style, grace as well as having great comic timing and chemistry.  Top Hat is one of their best films featuring famous ballroom dance numbers to songs  like Irving Berlin’s ‘Cheek to Cheek’ .

1. West Side Story


The Best Picture of 1961 is full of spectacular and original dance sequences choreographed by the great Jerome Robbins to the complex rhythms of Leonard Bernstein’s famous soundtrack. The Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale of two rival gangs brought together by Natalie Wood’s Maria and Richard Beymar’s Tony just about engages, but it really is those intensively rehearsed dances and catchy music that make it, the opening finger-snapping number being a prime example.

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