As we shed a tear for our “co-worker” and read all the news stories about how Oscar-award winning Natalie Portman’s dance double from Black Swan is demanding more credit, we started thinking about how the craze for dance movies and television shows started.
While there has been song-and-dance in musical comedy classics since the dawn of Hollywood, some of our favorite dance movies like Flashdance, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Center Stage are full of spandex clad dance-offs, lots of cheesy plot points, and tear-jerking moments of inspirational dialogue.
Here are some of our Top Ten Favorite Cheesy Dance Movies that make us want to slip into some neon pink tights and pretend we are on our own Dancing With The Stars.
10. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (1985)
In Girls Just Want To Have Fun, an exceedingly young Sarah Jessica Parker (probably before she knew about about any sexy happening in any city), played Janey Glenn, the lovable Army brat who just wants to dance–ironically–on her favorite dance show.
Drama ensues, a dance off ensues, and of course, the spandex-loving Janey comes out on top. Why? Because she stopped paying attention to how well she did and decided to “just have fun.”
9. Showgirls (1995)
Although Showgirls isn’t considered your typical “dance movie,” it follows the same basic premise: a talented, but misunderstood young girl trying to find her way in this cruel world decides to follow her dream of becoming a dancer/learns something from the art of dance.
Except with Elizabeth Berkley’s character Nomi’s case what she learns is to never trust a leggy brunette in sequins.
8. Center Stage (2000)
Center Stage is one of those flicks that 20-something year-old girls now used to watch obsessively, never admitting to their fascination with the malicious, carbohydrate-deprived ballerinas they so admired. Taking place at the American Ballet Academy in New York City, Center Stage has some great dance sequences and plenty of cat fights.
Thankfully, we have the redeeming qualities of Jody (Amanda Schull), the ballerina with the bad feet and the heart of gold, to offset all the delicious scandal.
7. Moulin Rouge (2001)
Director Baz Luhrrmann’s gorgeous, star-studded romantic musical film takes place at the infamous late nineteenth-century Parisian cabaret, the Moulin Rouge. Nicole Kidman plays the star chantuese that falls in love with a wayward writer named Christian played by Ewan McGregor.
Resplendent with lush set design and classic love songs, Moulin Rouge! is a feast for both the eyes, the ears, and the dance lover.
6. Save The Last Dance (2001)
When you initially watch Save The Last Dance, it’s hard to identify with the Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles) the tortured high school dancer who botched her Juilliard audition because of the death of her mother.
However, what unfolds is an inspiring love story about Sara and her culturally-different African-American boyfriend Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas.) Through Derek’s influence, Sara learns how to not just dance again, but dance with impassioned soul.
Does she get into Juilliard? What do you think?
5. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
A ’70s disco classic, John Travolta became both infamous and famous for his role as Tony Manero, the feisty NYC Italian stallion who wants to get out of his blue-collar life and win over the girl of his dreams with his dance moves.
Manero might be handsome and have all the right stuff on the dance-floor, but his life is a shambles and he goes through many ups-and-downs before we actually discover if all that dancing helped him get the girl.
4. Fame (1980)
As the former attendee of a performing arts high school, the author always used to wish that her school was as cool as the Fame school.
The movie follows a disparate group of performance-loving teenagers through their entire four years at high school, one being the triple-threat Coco Hernandez (Irene Cara) that generations of performing arts students will always use as a modicum for excellence.
3. Footloose (1984)
Back before everyone had six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, there was the Footloose and fancy-free Ren (Kevin Bacon) who moves to a small Mid-West town where dancing and rock ‘n roll has been banned.
Of course, Ren has to rebel and finally teach the hyper-religious town that dancing and music is not evil. While he doesn’t influence the whole town, along the way he gets some people dancing for the first time in their lives.
2. Flashdance (1983)
Admittedly, we still watch this movie on repeat–especially when we want to work off some stress or need motivation for that perfect bikini bod. Jennifer Beals was (and still is) completely gorgeous and we have a hard time believing that she plays Alex–a teenage welder at a steel mill.
Apparently, Alex does too because at night she works as a dancer and her biggest dream is to become a professional dancer despite formal training. Along the way, she falls in love as one is wont to do in a Hollywood-produced dance film, despite the fact that it seems like Alex has no time for a boyfriend.
Does Alex make it to the dance conservatory? We never find that out, but we do know her love “blooms.” Aww, sweet.
1. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Women of all ages have had a Dirty Dancing/Patrick Swayze moment. It’s hard to imagine an more erotic moment in a dance film than the one between Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) during the montage where he teaches her how to dance.
Baby is a rich girl completely out of touch with her sexuality, but during the dance finale, we see that Baby is finally liberated through the help of Johnny, but also without needing Johnny to unravel her inner magic.
- What do you think? What’s your favorite dance movie? Is there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments!