Try not to get up and dance as we take a look at some of cinema’s most well-known dance scenes.
The Dance at the Gym in “West Side Story”
From the moment viewers are introduced to the rivaling teenage street gangs known as the Sharks and the Jets, “West Side Story” manages to touch on ethnic tensions and teenage love with unforgettable songs and dance sequences.
At the gym, audiences see how the two warring factions channel their anger into dance and we can feel the tension in the room at an almost uncomfortable level. That is until we see the film's protagonists Tony and Maria meet. Though tense, their subtle interaction makes this scene all so special.
Nina’s Final Transformation in “Black Swan”
Dancing isn’t all pink tulle and classical music. The film “Black Swan” explored the darker side of the ballet world. In the movie, Natalie Portman plays a ballerina named Nina pushing herself to the brink as she prepares for her role in the classic show Swan Lake.
Nina’s descent into madness is fully illustrated in the scene in which Nina’s hallucinations make her believe she’s actually turning into a black swan. The scene is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time — themes explored throughout the movie.
Elvis Performing “Jailhouse Rock” in the Film “Jailhouse Rock”
Leave it to rock and roll legend Elvis Presley to somehow make jail seem a bit more enjoyable with his prison-themed film, “Jailhouse Rock”. In the film, Elvis plays a musically-inclined, and dashingly-handsome inmate.
Though Elvis’ character sings several songs throughout the film, it's his performance of “Jailhouse Rock” that is often called the icon’s “greatest moment on-screen.” With his signature swag and unmistakable dance moves, it's hard to not want to break out some moves of your own after watching his performance.
Ann Miller’s Provocative Dance in “Kiss Me Kate”
There's a reason why Ann Miller is considered such a musical legend. Like in many of her roles, in “Kiss Me, Kate,” Ann manages to sing, act, and tap dance, all while looking effortlessly amazing!
In her dance sequence for “Too Darn Hot”, Anne wears a tight, shimmery, fringed, hot pink number as she tapdances around the room. If her revealing outfit wasn’t enough to send temperatures soaring in the scene, the song's flirty lyrics and her even flirtier performance make this one of the raciest scenes in the ‘50s.
Final Performance in “Stomp the Yard”
After a traumatic event, DJ Williams is sent to Georgia to attend a university where he joins a fraternity called Theta, as well as joins their stepping team. Known as stepping or step-dancing, stepping involves a person using footwork, hand-clapping, and vocals to create a unique rhythm.
Like in real step competitions, DJ soon finds himself in a heated step-dancing battle between two fraternities. Using real step dancers and actors, the film is noted for its accuracy and realistic depiction of this unique form of dance.
John Travolta Dancing to “You Should Be Dancing” in “Saturday Night Fever”
It takes a lot of swagger to make a polyester suit look appealing. In "Saturday Night Fever," John made us all want to get out on the dance floor and shake what our mama gave us to some of the biggest disco hits.
While the film has several memorable dance scenes, our favorite has to be John’s solo takeover of the floor as he boogies to the Bee Gees’s “You Should Be Dancing”. After seeing him strut, we don’t need any further motivation!
The Bollywood Twist at the End of “Slumdog Millionaire”
The award-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” is a powerful story about love and destiny. And no scene captures the intensity of the film as much as the musical number played during the ending credits.
The song “Jai Ho,” which roughly translates to “let there be victory,” features the film's protagonists as they dance using traditional Bollywood moves in a train station. After going on such a powerful emotional journey with the characters, seeing them break out into song and dance is a memorable way to end the film.
El Tango de Roxanne in “Moulin Rouge”
Set in an opulent Parisian cabaret, “Moulin Rouge” tells the story of the relationship between a performer named Satine and her lover, an English poet named Christian. Though Satine and her co-stars perform many unforgettable routines, one number truly puts the emotions of the characters into actual motion — “El Tango de Roxanne.”
Set to The Police’s “Roxanne,” the scene begins with a passionate Argentinian tango dance which quickly turns into a powerful display of emotions. The scene is so intense you might have to remind yourself to take a breath!
The “Jingle Bell Rock” Dance in “Mean Girls”
Though the cult-classic comedy “Mean Girls” provided us with tons of new slang (“so fetch!”) and other quotable moments, one of the film's most memorable scenes has to be when the girls dance to the holiday classic “Jingle Bell Rock”.
From their barely-there Santa costumes to the malfunctioning boombox, the scene is perfect from start to finish. And who could miss Amy Poehler holding the camcorder as she records and encourages the girls? The scene is iconic, to say the least!
Audrey Hepburn’s Bohemian Dance in “Funny Face”
In the film “Funny Face,” Audrey Hepburn plays a bookseller from New York who finds herself thrust into the fashion industry and traveling to Paris. She soon falls in love with a fashion photographer played by Fred Astaire.
Though Audrey had studied classical dance, the film’s most memorable dance scene is when Audrey shows off her unique-for-the-era dance moves in black pants and a black turtleneck. Audrey’s outfit and moves from this scene have become iconic and even inspired Whitney Houston’s music video for “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”
A Fully Choreographed Prom in “She’s All That”
As if high school wasn’t hard enough, some expect you to know a perfectly choreographed routine to perform at prom. At least that was the case for the high school in “She’s All That.”
Like many teen films, the focus of this movie was prom. And no prom would be complete without mean girls, elaborate hairdos, and impossibly-difficult-to-master dance moves. We’re not going to lie, we kinda wish our prom would have included a well-choreographed dance routine that everyone somehow magically knew!
Sandy and Danny’s “You’re the One That I Want” Duet in “Grease”
From the moment we see Danny (played by John Travolta)’s blue eyes widen as he casts his eyes on former good-girl Sandy wearing tight leather pants, we knew we were in for one of the most memorable dance sequences in musical history.
Beginning with Sandy telling Danny, “Tell me about it, stud” in a breathy voice, the two dance and sing their way through a carnival. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t sing and dance to this song at a sleepover!
The Three-Person Tango in “Take the Lead”
You’ve got to love an inspiring tale about the power of dance that is based on a true story. The film “Take the Lead” was inspired by famed dance instructor Pierre Dulaine who used dance to help disadvantaged youth.
The film manages to show a variety of impressive dance scenes, but the most memorable has to be during the final dance competition when three of the students perform a three-person tango. Set to a remix of traditional tango music, the unique dance is truly a feat of artistic talent and creativity.
Maria and Captain von Trapp Dance in “The Sound of Music”
In the classic film, “The Sound of Music,” Maria is sent to take care of a widowed Naval Officer, Captain von Trapp, and his seven children. The bubbling chemistry between the young governess and the stoic father is obvious as they begin to dance the Ländler, a traditional Austrian folk dance.
While the movie is a classic for its many musical numbers, this scene is memorable because we truly feel the love between the two characters as they dance, creating their own little world on the dance floor.
Dinner Guests Impromptu Dance to “Day-O” in “Beetlejuice”
There are some scenes in movies that are so completely unexpected that they actually end up surprisingly becoming our favorite scenes. The campy horror film “Beetlejuice” has many memorable scenes and characters, but few can forget the dinner dance scene to the song “Day-O.”
In the scene, possessed dinner guests suddenly begin singing and dancing to the Jamaican song, “Day-O” with one guest even using an ice bucket as a drum. The whole scene where they dance around the table is both shocking and hilarious.
Backstreet Boys’ Surprise Appearance in “This Is the End”
From mastering their dance moves and songs, to choosing their favorite member of the boy band, there was no ‘90s group bigger than the Backstreet Boys. Who knew that decades later, we would see the pop group rocking out in a massive musical number at the end of the comedy-disaster film “This Is the End”?
In the scene, the Backstreet Boys show off their signature moves in heaven surrounded by a huge dancing crowd. The scene is everything we could want — ‘90s pop music, hilarious actors, and ridiculous costumes.
David Bowie’s Goblin-Filled Performance in “Labyrinth”
Leave it to icon David Bowie to be able to keep a straight face when singing in a room full of goblin puppets as the goblin king Jareth in Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth”.
Though the movie takes place in a mythical realm, the legend’s undeniable cool factor made it hard for audiences to take their eyes off of him as he danced and sang around the castle like it was a stage. Who knew a mullet and ruffled blouse could look so strangely spellbinding!
Anna and the King Performing “Shall We Dance?” in “The King and I”
From elaborately decorated sets to award-winning costume design, “The King and I” is often thought of as a work of art, and that’s not even mentioning the musical and dance numbers. In the film's most poignant scene, Deborah Kerr as Anna Leonowens teaches Yul Brynner’s character, King Mongkut of Siam, how to dance the polka.
Though the scene may seem tame compared to today’s standard, the King grabbing Anna’s waist to pull her in tight for dance was very scandalous for its time. Swoon!
Impromptu Performance of “You Don’t Own Me” in “First Wives Club”
Any film starring Hollywood’s funniest women, Bette Middler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton, is bound to be hilarious. Refusing to be defeated by the behavior of the men in their lives, the three women band together to support one another.
The characters' journey of empowerment is perfectly summed up in their rendition of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” which the ladies perform after an event. Watching that scene, it’s hard not to want to throw on a white suit and join the stars as they sing that powerful anthem!
Channing Tatum Performing “Pony” in “Magic Mike”
Ginuwine’s song “Pony” gets hearts racing by itself, but add in Channing Tatum slowly stripping down, and the audience was practically breathless! Though there is no shortage of good-looking men making audiences feel hot under the collar, this scene is one of the film’s most famous, and for good reason.
Putting his own spin on the ‘90s R & B classic, Channing Tatum’s sensual solo act became one of the most memorable moments in the movie. Plan on taking a cold shower after watching this famous dance scene!
Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines Duet in “White Nights”
In the film “White Nights”, viewers are treated to one of the most memorable dance scenes in history, a duet with two of the most revered dancers of modern time — Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.
Dancing to David Pack’s “Prove Me Wrong” the two turn an ordinary dance studio into the setting for one of the greatest dance scenes ever. Though the dancers have diverse dance backgrounds, they begin dancing together seamlessly. The grace, fluidity, and talent demonstrated by these two masters of their craft are often described as “breathtaking.”
The Final Dance Scene in “Honey”
The 2003 dance film “Honey” may not have impressed critics with its often cringe-worthy dialogue (seriously, what were the writers thinking?), but the movie’s dance scenes more than made up for it. Loosely inspired by celebrity choreographer Laurieann Gibson (who choreographed and appeared in the film), “Honey” has various noteworthy dance scenes.
Fans especially loved the film’s final scene when Honey, Jessica Alba’s character, gets to see the at-risk youth she mentors perform in an elaborate hip hop-influenced number. Proving that behind the corny dialogue, the movie had real heart.
Tom Dancing to “You Make My Dreams” in “500 Days of Summer”
If there’s one word to describe the film “500 Days of Summer” it would probably be “quirky.” The film, which helped popularize the term “manic-pixie-dream-girl” tells the story of Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who falls in love with a girl named Summer played by hipster goddess, Zooey Deschanel.
The film’s surprising dance sequence to Hall & Oates’s “You Make My Dreams” perfectly captures Tom’s euphoric feelings about Summer. Complete with background dancers and cartoon birds, it shows just how overwhelming first love can be.
Tango Scene in “Shall We Dance”
There’s no denying that the final dance competition scene of this film was amazing and perfectly choreographed. But the scene starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere dancing the tango in her dimly lit studio is one of the movie’s most unforgettable.
The scene manages to be passionate without us doubting Jennifer’s ability to be a professional dance instructor. The sheer erotic energy and tension of the scene add to the development of the love story between the two and makes their dance sizzle with sensuality.
Epic “Time of My Life” Scene in “Dirty Dancing”
When people think of iconic dance scenes in movies, the first scene many people think of is the ending scene of “Dirty Dancing” when Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze’s characters perform in front of the guests at the swanky Catskills resort, Kellerman’s.
Their sizzling chemistry and sensual moves are shown throughout the film. Still, there's no denying the happiness that audiences feel when they see “Baby” and Johnny put on this intimate-yet-public performance to the now-famous song, “The Time of My Life.”
Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson Dancing in “The Little Colonel”
As one of Hollywood’s most famous child stars, Shirley Temple provided us with many adorably enjoyable musical numbers. One of the most beloved was the staircase dance between her and film star and legendary tap dancer, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
In addition to being groundbreaking as the first onscreen interracial dance, it is simply a joy to watch. Seeing little Shirley learn to master Bill’s graceful tap dancing routine is heartwarming, to say the least. In later years, Shirley referred to the scene as “magic” and we completely agree!
Ferris Bueller Crashing the Parade in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
From the quotable lines “Bueller…Bueller” to Ferris frequently breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience, there’s no doubt that this film is a fan favorite.
In one of the most popular dance scenes in the movie, Ferris decides to crash the Von Steuben Day parade and serenade the audience with an energetic lip-sync of “Twist and Shout” in an elaborately filmed sequence. Though their fun is quickly over as Ferris races to get home in time without getting caught, the scene still makes us smile, even decades later!
The Cast Dancing to “Thriller” in “13 Going on 30”
“13 Going on 30” is easily one of the greatest rom coms of the early 2000s, and like many of the other films of that genre, it features a memorable dance scene. But while many dance scenes try to make the protagonists look good, this scene embraces Jenna’s awkward teenage-like mannerisms as she and her love interest Matt dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”.
From her brightly-colored outfit to goofy dance moves, the scene reminds us just how fun it is to dance like no one’s watching.
“Stayin’ Alive” Bar Scene in “Airplane”
"Airplane" is often called one of the funniest films ever made. Not content with just making fun of the popular disaster films, the creators of this satire film also poked fun at the disco craze of the ‘70s with their infamous “Stayin’ Alive” dance scene.
Though Robert Hays is no John Travolta, audiences couldn’t stop laughing at his over-the-top dance routine at the dive bar. From hilarious tosses in the air to zinging one-liners, this dance scene is just as funny today as it was when the movie premiered!
Bumble’s Bold Moves in “Happy Feet”
It's not just humans that can show off their moves! Using the slippery ice of Antarctica as his dance floor, Mumble the penguin danced his way across the frozen landscape and into the audience’s hearts in the animated film “Happy Feet."
What makes his flipper-tastic performance of “Boogie Wonderland” so amazing is that the dance scene was actually performed by real dancers whose moves were animated using motion capture technology. Mumble’s performance is actually acted out by tap dance and choreography legend, Savion Glover. It’s hard not to fall in love with this memorable scene!
The Powerful Performance of “Bye Bye Life” in “All That Jazz”
Directed by dance legend Bob Fosse, “All That Jazz” was a semi-autobiographical film that showed the choreographer/director’s “work hard, play hard” lifestyle which eventually left him hospitalized.
The film’s most moving scene is when the icon is in the hospital yet another time and begins hallucinating about his life. The costumes, dance moves, and themes explored in this scene are extremely powerful as audiences get a look into the mind of one of the biggest geniuses in dance history as he comes to grips with his own mortality.
Al Fresco Dance Party in “Call Me by Your Name”
While some dance scenes feature choreographed moves or impressive costumes, the dance scene in the critically acclaimed film, “Call Me by Your Name” resonates thanks to its realism. In the scene, Elio looks on longingly as his crush Oliver dances without abandon.
The jealousy and sadness he feels are in complete contrast to Oliver’s carefree moves. Just as the audiences think the two will dance together, Elio begins dancing with another person. The emotion and sultry summer ambiance of the scene make viewers feel like they are right there with the characters.
Dancing to David Bowie in “A Knight’s Tale”
Though “A Knight’s Tale” could have stuck to classical music in order to keep in line with the film’s medieval setting, the film chose to include contemporary music in some of the major scenes. One example is playing Queen’s powerful “We Will Rock You” during one of the jousting tournaments.
Viewers got another surprise during a dance scene between the late Heath Ledger and Shannyn Sossamon to David Bowie’s “Golden Years.” The dance seems to begin traditionally enough but soon slowly morphs into a delightfully trippy dance thanks to Bowie’s vocals.
Cameron Diaz Dancing to “Baby Got Back” in “Charlie’s Angels”
In the film “Charlie's Angels," Cameron Diaz, aka Natalie Cook, dreams of performing on the “Soul Train” stage. The problem? Let’s just say her moves aren’t exactly up to par.
Still, she decides to unapologetically embrace her goofy uncoordinated self and just dance to her heart's content while a crowd of spectators watches on in horror/confusion. While a scene like this would normally make us cringe, Cameron’s megawatt smile and infectious energy had us cheering her on and made the scene a classic.
The Barn-Raising Dance in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
Though the premise of this movie may not have aged well, it stands out as one of the most well-known musicals in cinematic history. The movie, which is set in the mid-1800s, tells the unusual story of the courtship between a family of brothers and their brides.
Though the country-themed film features plenty of foot-stomping and hand-clapping as we'd expect from country line dancing, the film’s most famous scene is the barn-raising scene. At seven minutes long, the scene combines athleticism with dance while still telling the story. Seriously impressive!
The Dance Performed at Jack Rabbit Slims’ Twist Contest in “Pulp Fiction”
In what came as a shock to viewers, Quentin Tarantino decided to take a (short) break from the film's graphic violence to include this now-iconic dance moment. In the scene, John Travolta’s character, hitman Vincent Vega, takes Uma Thurman’s character, Mia Wallace, to a ‘50s-themed diner.
Mia enters the two into the restaurant’s twist contest where she and Vincent show off their dancing skills. Though the dance would seem goofy being performed by anyone else, they somehow manage to make it look unbelievably cool.
Tom Cruise Dancing to “Old Time Rock and Roll” in “Risky Business”
“Risky Business” may be known as Tom Cruise’s break-out movie, but it’s also the film that launched a million of the easiest DIY Halloween costumes. Like Tom’s character in the comedy, all you need is a pair of briefs, a button-down shirt, and uber-cool sunglasses.
Though the same film features a young Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay getting down and dirty on Chicago’s public transportation, it’s Tom sliding around in his socks and lip-syncing to “Old Time Rock and Roll” that really captured our attention.
Dance-Off Scene in “White Chicks”
What would an early 2000s movie be without the quintessential dance-off scene? In the film, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans play two FBI agents going undercover as wealthy blonde sisters. Naturally, (sarcasm alert) their beauty and grace incur the envy of another pair of wealthy blonde sisters.
Soon the sisters, thronged by their respective girlfriends, battle it out on the dance floor. This scene is memorable for its insane dance moves, and the fact that the undercover agents managed to win the faceoff without their wigs falling off and blowing their cover. Now that’s talent!
The Ending Credits of “Paddington 2”
It may seem a bit strange to see Hugh Grant in a children's movie considering his often sarcastic nature. Thankfully, though. Hugh was able to show off his surprising musical side in the sequel to the popular film, “Paddington 2.”
Playing an actor-turned-criminal named Phoenix Buchanan, Hugh performs a lengthy musical and dance number at the end of the film. Wearing a pink striped prison uniform, Hugh dances and sings rather spectacularly we must say. Who knew he had it in him?
The Passionate Dance in “The Mask of Zorro”
Even with his trademark mask, it would be hard not to see the obvious chemistry between stars Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film, “The Mask of Zorro.” Though the duo’s surprisingly erotic duel may be the film’s most famous scene, their dance number is just as memorable.
In the scene, the masked vigilante named Zorro and Elena (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) share an unbelievably passionate dance together. With the dance floor to themselves, audiences watch as the two engage in a scandalously-intimate number that resonates with audiences even today.
Salma Hayek’s Vampire Dance in “From Dusk Till Dawn”
Before princess of pop Britney Spears was shimmying at the 2001 VMAs with a snake, there was another reptile-wearing dancer — Salma Hayek’s character in “From Dusk Till Dawn.” In the film, she plays an exotic dancer who is really a vampire (seriously!).
What follows is one of the film’s most memorable scenes involving Salma’s sensual belly dance as a giant snake intertwines itself around her — foretelling the scary fate that awaits the bar’s patrons. Those with a fear of snakes might want to skip this particular number!
The Iconic Water Dance in “Flashdance”
Though the premise of “Flashdance” seems a bit far-fetched (a gorgeous and talented welder at a steel mill who moonlights as a dancer in a gentleman’s club by night), the film is considered one of the best dance movies in history.
Her audition scene set to the song “What a Feeling” is certainly memorable. However, it’s her sensual and soaking wet dance to “He’s a Dream” that has not only become a pop culture legacy but remains one of the most erotic dance scenes ever filmed.
Olive’s Performance in “Little Miss Sunshine”
“Little Miss Sunshine” is a film that surprised us in many ways. From Steve Carrell’s dramatic performance to the film’s sad yet sometimes hilarious moments. But one scene left us both smiling and in shock — Olive’s performance at the beauty pageant.
Most of us were pretty shocked at her totally-age-inappropriate routine to Rick James's “Super Freak.” However, we were soon rewarded with one of the film's most heartwarming moments when Olive’s eccentric family members joined her onstage for an awkwardly adorable dance.
Battle at the Roxy in “Beat Street”
The 1984 dance film “Beat Street” explored the growing hip-hop and breakdancing scene in New York City. Filmed on location, the movie gave a realistic look at the world of MCing, graffiti, and breakdancing.
One of the most memorable scenes is when the two competing dance crews compete at the Roxy's New Year's Eve show in the hopes of being spotted by a talent scout. The performance is known as the greatest breakdancing scene in cinematic history and continues to inspire hip-hop culture even decades after the movie first premiered.
The “Cell Block Tango” Performance in “Chicago”
The film adaptation of the musical “Chicago” has many incredible dance numbers, but one of the film’s most memorable dance sequences has to be the song “Cell Block Tango.” The scene and dance help shape the backstory of the jail’s most prominent inmates.
The scene’s incredible singing with even more impressive dance moves keeps viewers on their toes and wondering if some of the imprisonments were actually justified! The prisoners’ dancing as they are literally crawling the walls of their cells is just one reason why this film is so critically acclaimed.
The Opening Credits of “Do the Right Thing”
While the themes of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” are still relevant today, the film is also known for its soundtrack and memorable scenes, particularly the film’s opening credits. The film opens with soft jazz music and quickly changes to the politically charged Public Enemy song “Fight the Power.”
With the streets of New York City as the background, Rosie Perez, making her film debut, dances passionately to the song. Her amazing choreography and the song’s powerful lyrics make this one of the most famous opening sequences in a movie.
Billy Angrily Dancing to “Town Called Malice” in “Billy Elliot”
Though the British cult-hit “Billy Elliot” has many emotional scenes, we couldn’t help but love this dance sequence to The Jam’s “Town Called Malice”. In the scene, aspiring ballet dancer Billy is struggling with the expectations put on him by his family and blue-collar background (in complete contrast with his dreams to dance in the Royal Ballet).
As the music begins, Billy throws himself physically into the dance, tapping his way across the neighborhood; we can feel just how trapped and angry he feels with each step.
Gwen Verdon Performing “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” in “Damn Yankees”
The 1958 film “Damn Yankees” takes the classic Faustian theme and combines it with America's favorite pastime — baseball. Bringing new meaning to the words sports-fanatic, Joe trades his soul for the opportunity to become a young baseball player to take on the New York Yankees.
Helping facilitate this trade is the devil’s seductive assistant, Lola. In one of the raciest scenes of the film, Lola dances mesmerizingly and sings a song to remind Joe of their agreement. Seeing that scene, it’s no wonder Joe traded his soul!
Final Dance Scene in “The Princess Diaries”
There are some movie scenes that just make you smile. Our favorite scene from "The Princess Diaries" has to be the scene in which Princess Mia Thermopolis attends the royal ball with her grandmother, Queen Clarisse.
Though their dance is initially stiff, Mia later returns to the dance floor with her love interest Michael and the two of them inspire the royal court to shed their uptight dancing style for a more free-spirited and animated one. Seeing Anne Hathaway do the “robot” dance in a tiara makes this scene something to remember.
Napoleon Shaking It to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat”
The cult-favorite film “Napoleon Dynamite” isn’t a film that most people would think would feature an epic dance scene, but just like the film’s popularity, this movie manages to surprise. In the film, Napoleon is a hilariously awkward high schooler with an even more eccentric group of friends.
His quirkiness reaches its peak when Napoleon puts on a memorable show to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.” The dance scene is a surprising treat for the audience and is also heartwarming as Napoleon decides to embrace who he is, regardless of what others may think.
The Ballet Performance in “An American in Paris”
While some of us can barely keep up with songs that are less than four-minutes-long, screen legends Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron managed to perform a 17-minute-long dance routine in the film, “An American in Paris.”
The scene follows the couple as they dance and sing their way through elaborately painted sets of Paris. Estimated to have cost almost half a million dollars, the scene was ambitious, to say the least. Its undeniable influence on dance and cinema makes it considered one of the most revered dance sequences in history.
Fred Astaire Dancing on the Ceiling in “Royal Wedding”
In the 1951 film, “Royal Wedding” Fred Astaire is so enamored with his girlfriend that he can’t help but dance on every surface, even the ceiling! Known as one of the most famous dance solos ever captured on camera, this ceiling dance has inspired singers like Lionel Richie!
The groundbreaking scene was made by building the set inside of a revolving cage that rotated 360 degrees as the camera was still, giving the illusion of the famous dancer being able to dance on the ceiling and walls of the room!
The Impossibly Choreographed Scene for “Another Day of Sun” in “La La Land”
In what is probably one of the most impressive opening numbers ever captured on film, one of the drivers on the congested Los Angeles highway decides to pass the time by dancing. She is soon followed by dozens of other disgruntled, yet talented, drivers.
Filmed on location on an actual highway ramp in L.A, the number took about four months to shoot and used 30 dancers to perform the film’s opening song, “Another Day of Sun.” Who knew that traffic could be so entertaining?
Slow Dance in “Romy and Michele’s Highschool Reunion”
Who can listen to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” without thinking of this memorable scene in “Romy and Michele’s Highschool Reunion”? When their covers as post-it moguls are blown and their plan to impress their former classmates doesn’t work out, the two realize that they’ve already achieved the impossible — they have each other.
The two former outcasts join fellow outcast Sandy Frink in a slow dance to the ‘80s hit. With its fluid dance moves and a message about true friendship, it’s no wonder this scene is so memorable.
Jack and Rose Dancing in “Titanic”
From Jack and Rose floating in the frigid ocean to the sketching scene, the epic blockbuster film “Titanic” has provided us with some of the most famous scenes in movie history. One of the most memorable scenes is when Rose joins Jack in a raucous party hosted by the “third-class” passengers.
Rose looks so happy to be spinning around in Jack's arms as they dance and stomp to traditional Irish music. The giddiness and energy of the scene make audiences feel like they are right there with the characters on the doomed ship.
The Final Performance in “Center Stage”
Let’s face it — ballet isn’t typically associated with the word cool. But thanks to the film “Center Stage,” we learned that there are apparently bad boys in ballet too. The amazingly choreographed scenes showcased not only the incredible talent of the dancers but also touched on the character’s own personal dramas.
The film's final scene, involving a motorcycle, a risque act, and a dancer somehow managing to plié in a pair of tight leather pants (after getting off a motorcycle nonetheless), makes this scene simply sensational!
The Nicholas Brothers' Performance in “Stormy Weather”
Once described by dancing icon Fred Astaire as “the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film,” this impressive dance sequence from the film “Stormy Weather” was surprisingly unrehearsed and even more shockingly, recorded in just one take!
Dancing on tables, stages, and every other surface imaginable, tap dancing legends, the legendary tap dancing duo, the Nicholas Brothers never lose their footing as they dance to the song “Jumpin Jive.” This scene is a must-see for lovers of dance!
Gene Kelly Performing “Singin' in the Rain” From “Singin' in the Rain”
From forgetting to bring an umbrella to trying not to slip on slippery streets, most of us have trouble just walking in the rain, let alone singing and dancing in it. In the classic 1952 film, “Singin’ in the Rain”, Gene Kelly doesn’t miss a beat while dancing under the downpour.
Between stomping in huge puddles and twirling his umbrella around, Gene ignoring the stormy weather brings a smile to our faces. It’s no wonder this scene is one of the most famous scenes in a Hollywood musical.
The Girls Performing Their “Water Dance” in “Coyote Ugly”
Who didn’t dream of leaving everything behind to work in one of New York City’s rowdiest bars after watching “Coyote Ugly”? Far from the elegant ballroom dancing in most flicks, this film showed us dance’s wilder side.
Viewers watched as “Jersey”, played by Piper Perabo, conquers her stage fright in the messiest way — getting absolutely drenched as she and the bar's other performers get wet and wild to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” (yes, the dance is just as raunchy as you'd expect). We just want to know how no one slipped!
The Heart-Warming Ending in “Strictly Ballroom”
Before Baz Luhrmann was synonymous with million-dollar Hollywood musicals, the Australian director made his directorial debut with the film “Strictly Ballroom.” The film, inspired by Baz’s own training as a dancer, quickly became a fan favorite.
One of the film's most memorable scenes is when, despite the many attempts to sabotage their performance, competitors Scott and Fran still manage to dazzle the audience with their Flamenco-inspired routine. Scott, played by actual dancer Paul Mercurio, and his partner's moves are so graceful yet powerful.
Dance Battle in “House Party”
Though there have been countless movies about teens getting up to no good when their parents are out of town, the 1990 film “House Party” is unique because of its depiction of early ‘90s hip hop and freestyling culture.
The film’s most famous scene of course has to be when Kid and Play (members of the hip hop group Kid’ n Play) get into a dance-off with two female party guests to the song “Not My Type of Hype.” The dance moves, fashion, and sheer energy make this scene a special moment as it captures a culture and dance not usually shown in previous films.
Library Dance in “The Breakfast Club”
What do you do when you’re stuck in seemingly endless detention? You have a wild dance session to help pass the time. In the ‘80s classic hit film, “The Breakfast Club”, five teenagers from vastly different cliques are brought together as they serve detention one Saturday.
Though the movie is a classic, the dance scene involves the film’s characters throwing an impromptu dance party in the library. While we don’t remember detention being that fun, this scene proves that sometimes dance can bring the least-expected friends together.
Big Bounce Finals in “You Got Served”
Though films showcasing dance-offs were commonplace during the early 2000s, one of the most well-known dance dramas has to be 2004’s “You Got Served.” From star cameos featuring Lil’ Kim and choreographer to the stars Wade Robson, the film included a genuinely talented cast.
Audiences watched as the dancers prepared for the ultimate street dancing competition — "Big Bounce" only to reach a tie. The film's final and most memorable scene features Lil Saints breaking the tie with some seriously incredible moves. We can’t imagine how much the dancers practiced for this scene!
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” in “Top Hat”
It's no surprise that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are often considered the greatest dancing duo in cinematic history. The pair's undeniable chemistry and dancing skills made them stars in the early days of Hollywood.
One dance scene, in particular, is often considered a favorite — the “Cheek to Cheek” scene in “Top Hat.” From the delightful lyrics about how happy Fred’s character is to be up close to his beau, to Ginger’s amazing feathered frock, the whole performance is nothing short of magical.
The Latin Ballroom Contest in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”
Combining the same level of romantic tension and serious talent as the original “Dirty Dancing”, this film takes place in Havana, Cuba the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. American teen Katey falls for romantic Cuban dancer Javier, and the two soon become more than just dance partners.
Despite the scandal that their first appearance as a couple causes, the upbeat music and the chemistry between the two leads jumps off the screen as they begin competing toward the finals. This scene, before they reach their finals, is brimming with passion and sensuality.
“The Greatest Show” in “The Greatest Showman”
Based on the story of circus and entertainment pioneer, P.T. Barnum, the musical film “The Greatest Showman” is filled with extravagant dance numbers and original songs. While the emotional power ballad “This Is Me” won awards, the performance of “The Greatest Show” left audiences amazed.
Featuring Hugh Jackman’s powerful voice, fire-breathing performers, trapeze artists, and dancers, the scene leaves us feeling energized and makes a real feeling of showmanship. The sheer amount of talent in this scene is what makes it so truly memorable.
Bar Battle Dance Scene in “Girls Trip”
The movie “Girls Trip” follows a group of women as they reunite on a trip to New Orleans. Along the journey, however, the girls are faced with some truly comical scenarios.
One of the film’s funniest scenes has to be when they decide to battle it out in a bar against a group of younger girls. Wearing neon-colored wigs, the group of friends shows audiences that age is just a number as they out-dance the younger girls with their old-school dance moves.
The Rain-Soaked Scene in “Step Up 2: The Streets”
What's cooler than an epic dance scene? How about an epic dance scene performed in the rain and dark? Like the first film in the franchise, “Step Up 2: The Streets” tells the story of a high school dancer (Andie) struggling to decide on her future.
Andie finds herself competing in Baltimore’s infamous underground dance battle known as “The Streets.” In the final and memorable scene, Andie and her dance crew duke it out in the pouring rain to screaming crowds who also don’t seem to mind the torrential downpour.
Dance Machine Dance-Off in “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”
When you're the new girl in town, what’s the first thing you should do? Well, according to Lindsay Lohan’s character, Lola, it's to challenge the school's queen bee, Carla, played by Megan Fox. Lola signs up to battle Carla, the reigning champion dancer on the dance machine at the local arcade.
Though the scene is filled with amazing early 2000s fashion (we see you Juicy Couture tracksuit!), the two show off some pretty fancy footwork. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we wished we looked this cool!
“The Time Warp” From “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”
Who doesn’t appreciate a catchy song that actually explains how to dance? The ‘70s cult-favorite film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is full of memorable songs and characters, but one of the movie’s most well-known songs has to be “The Time Warp”.
The song is performed by various characters as they dance to parts of the song in the film’s trademark outlandish costumes. In addition to dressing up as the characters, attempting the seemingly easy dance has become an integral part of enjoying the film. We apologize if you have "let's do the time warp again!" stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The Prom Scene in “Footloose”
Footloose is not only one of the most famous dance movies, but it was also considered Kevin Bacon’s breakout role. Going against the reverend and townsfolk of a small rural town, Chicago-native Ren can’t seem to get dancing off of his mind.
Despite the film's tense moments, things get a lot more celebratory when Ren commands the fellow prom guests “let’s dance.” What follows is one of the most raucous and energetic onscreen dance performances. To be fair, they released a lifetime of dancing desires in one night, no wonder they went crazy!
Amy Adams’s Performance of “That's How You Know” in “Enchanted”
A fairy-tale set in the real world, Disney’s “Enchanted” included several amazing musical numbers. One of the film’s most famous, “That's How You Know,” begins with Amy Adams singing to a very cynical Patrick Dempsey and soon gets New York’s entire Central Park involved.
The scene is said to have required hundreds of extras and 150 actual dancers to bring the performance to life. The scene is so moving and inspiring that it manages to make Patrick’s character actually believe in true love, at least until the song is over.
The Tango Scene in “Scent of a Woman”
Like most of this movie, the scene where Al Pacino’s character Frank dances the tango with a young beautiful woman defies expectations. After a bit of hesitation on her part, and some careful guidance by his assistant Charlie, the two hit the dance floor.
The woman quickly goes from being apprehensive to feeling comfortable as her blind dancing partner sweeps her around the dance floor with his surprisingly smooth moves. Punctuated by short moments of laughing and smiles, the scene is memorable for its touching vulnerability and real emotion.
The Final Showcase in “Step Up”
Many know “Step Up'' as the film that introduced us to the national treasure that is Channing Tatum, and also as the film where Channing met his future (but sadly now ex) wife, Jenna Dewan. The two play dancers from different sides of the track, who come together to perform in a show that will determine their professional dance future.
While the movie has many truly impressive dance numbers (some seriously steamy!), this hip-hop-meets-ballet dance is truly amazing. Though Channing and Jenna’s marriage didn’t last, this scene will certainly live on.
Crowds Dancing to “Fame” in the Film “Fame”
Show up outside of a high school for performing arts blasting powerful ‘80s jams from a boombox and you get, well, one of the most famous dance scenes ever captured on film. This 1980 film made all of us want to stop traffic to dance to the infectious beat.
Try not to cry as you see how proud Bruno’s seemingly rough taxi-driving father is of his son’s music as he gets everyone to dance, even getting into a fight with a truck driver. It can’t get more New York than this scene!
Surprisingly Romantic Dance in “Pride and Prejudice”
In the 2005 film adaptation of the classic Jane Austen story, Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen play the story’s protagonists, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, respectively. The dancing scene at the ball is a fan favorite because it illustrates the dynamics of their complex relationship.
The dance moves, their biting dialogue, and the undeniable romantic tension between the two make it hard to look away. Things get even tenser when the background changes and suddenly it's just the two of them dancing together. The scene is somehow nuanced yet explosive with emotion at the same time.
Disco Dancing Scene in “Boogie Nights”
Though the film “Boogie Nights” dealt with some pretty heavy and graphic content, it also included one of the best disco dance scenes. Wearing his best ‘70s garb, Mark Wahlberg’s character shows off his seriously impressive disco moves on the dance floor as he soon attracts a throng of female dancers.
While we knew Mark was a talented rapper, who knew the guy could boogie like that? Everything from the dance moves to the costumes makes the scene feel very authentic and brings a light moment into an otherwise darker film.
The Cast of “Hairspray” Performing “You Can't Stop the Beat”
This musical and the film adaptation deal with some pretty serious subjects. However, the film’s uplifting music and inspirational characters leave audiences knowing that if they work together, they can achieve anything.
No scene describes that uplifting message more than the movie’s musical number for the song “Can’t Stop the Beat.” The song’s powerful lyrics, energetic dance moves, and stereotype-defying and diverse performers make this dance sequence truly amazing. Try not to get up and dance when you hear this song!
Dancing at the Coco Bongo in “The Mask”
After several scenes of his cartoonish and wild antics around the city, the character known as The Mask, makes his grand appearance at the Coco Bongo nightclub — a hotspot and place where his love interest (a very young Cameron Diaz) performs.
In a dazzling display of signature Jim Carey’s exaggerated facial expressions and high energy, the two show off some truly impressive dance moves as The Mask whisks his lady to dizzying heights and twirls on the dance floor. Who knew that Jim Carey was such a great dancer?
Final Performance in “Silver Linings Playbook”
The film “Silver Linings Playbook” took all of our preconceived notions of what a dance movie should be and whisked them away in one dizzying spin. In the film, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters decide to enroll in a local dance competition.
Though the film’s choreographer admired Bradley’s “real natural dancing ability,” Jennifer needed a bit more work. Thankfully after many hours, they gifted us with an unforgettable dance scene set to The White Stripes’s “Fell in Love With a Girl”, which was as chaotic and lovable as the film itself!