31 Best Dance Scenes in Movies

31 Best Dance Scenes in Movies's icon

Created by beasterne.

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Dance critic Sarah Kaufman writes: “What do dance scenes add to a movie? Unspeakable bliss, for starters. Dancing starts when dialogue fails. When lovers need to move beyond conversation, when conflicts boil past negotiation, when joy can’t be expressed in any other way than by leaping into the air on a trumpeter’s high note.

With the rise of movie musicals in the early part of the 20th century, dancing moved easily from stage to screen, becoming bigger, more potent, ever more spectacular — and a lasting love affair with the moviegoing public was born. It’s still going on: Witness the mainstream success of “La La Land,” a film in the golden age mold.

I also had to set some rules for this list: I considered specific dance scenes, not the quality of entire movies. I didn’t include documentaries or foreign films; no “Pina,” no “Mad Hot Ballroom.” With matchless artists in movement, music and choreography, the 1940s and ’50s dominate my choices, but even those aren’t exhaustive. I settled on the era’s best and moved on. I handicapped Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, limiting them to just one dance (it’s my No. 1, the best of the best) from all the jewels in their 10 films together, because if I didn’t, they’d eat the list. Our vast cinematic history is studded with marvelous dancing, and one has to draw the line somewhere.”

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  1. 1 new

    Swing Time

    1936, in 13 top lists Check
  2. 2 new

    Stormy Weather

    1943, in 5 top lists Check
  3. 3 new

    Singin' in the Rain

    1952, in 35 top lists Check
  4. 4 new

    An American in Paris

    1951, in 17 top lists Check
  5. 5 new

    Ship Ahoy

    1942, in 0 top lists Check
  6. 6 new

    Broadway Melody of 1940

    1940, in 1 top list Check
  7. 7 new

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    1954, in 8 top lists Check
  8. 8 new

    Small Town Girl

    1953, in 0 top lists Check
  9. 9 new

    West Side Story

    1961, in 22 top lists Check
  10. 10 new

    Saturday Night Fever

    1977, in 13 top lists Check
  11. 11 new

    All That Jazz

    1979, in 18 top lists Check
  12. 12 new

    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

    1953, in 10 top lists Check
  13. 13 new

    The Band Wagon

    1953, in 14 top lists Check
  14. 14 new

    Sweet Charity

    1969, in 0 top lists Check
  15. 15 new

    The Red Shoes

    1948, in 25 top lists Check
  16. 16 new

    Dirty Dancing

    1987, in 8 top lists Check
  17. 17 new

    Damn Yankees

    1958, in 1 top list Check
  18. 18 new

    All of Me

    1984, in 2 top lists Check
  19. 19 new

    Stepmom

    1998, in 1 top list Check
  20. 20 new

    La La Land

    2016, in 15 top lists Check
  21. 21 new

    White Nights

    1985, in 0 top lists Check
  22. 22 new

    You Got Served

    2004, in 0 top lists Check
  23. 23 new

    Silver Linings Playbook

    2012, in 6 top lists Check
  24. 24 new

    Center Stage

    2000, in 0 top lists Check
  25. 25 new

    Bye Bye Birdie

    1963, in 0 top lists Check
  26. 26 new

    White Chicks

    2004, in 0 top lists Check
  27. 27 new

    House Party

    1990, in 1 top list Check
  28. 28 new

    Pulp Fiction

    1994, in 37 top lists Check
  29. 29 new

    The Cotton Club

    1984, in 1 top list Check
  30. 30 new

    A Chorus Line

    1985, in 0 top lists Check
  31. 31 new

    Pennies from Heaven

    1981, in 1 top list Check
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Last updated on Apr 7, 2019; source