If you haven’t seen any of these films about dance, you’ve got to drop everything (including your moves) and watch some of these hit dance films.
“Dirty Dancing” (1987)
Everyone has surely seen the iconic “Dirty Dancing” move where Jennifer Grey runs and leaps into Patrick Swayze’s arms as he lifts her up above his head while “The Time of My Life” plays in the background. In “Dirty Dancing,” Baby (Jennifer Grey) finds herself substituting as a dance partner, learning from and simultaneously falling in love with Johnny (Patrick Swayze). It’s a charming and romantic classic that also has surprisingly dark themes in addition to the numerous Latin style dances.
“Billy Elliot” (2000)
We all love rooting for the underdog so what’s better than a rags-to-riches story coupled with ballet and tap dancing? “Billy Elliot” (2000), later developed into a Tony Award-winning musical, deals with Billy and his family in a small mining town during England’s 1984-85 miners’ strike. Billy’s father signs him up for boxing lessons, yet Billy finds himself drawn to the ballet class next door. We follow the story of Billy and his dismayed father — the journey toward acceptance of Billy’s passion for ballet — simultaneously interlaced with the chronicles of the miners on strike and the conflict that arises accordingly. It’s ultimately a sweet coming-of-age film complete with the famous and adorable tap dancing through the streets scene.
According to “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014), “Footloose” (1984) is about “A great hero, named Kevin Bacon (who) teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that dancing … is the greatest thing there is.” To be fair, it’s actually not far from the truth. Kevin Bacon plays Ren, who moves to a small town in which the reverend has banned dancing. In true 1980s fashion, Ren embarks on his rebellious quest to reintroduce the town to dance, culminating in a classic final ensemble dance scene.
The origin of perhaps the other most iconic dance scene — Jennifer Beals sitting in a chair, leaning and tilting her head back as a bucket of water is dropped on her — “Flashdance” is, just as the title suggests, a flashy and lavish movie. It’s got all the campy ’80s vibes you could ask for. Jennifer Beals plays a steelworker who dancers in a bar at night to make ends meet but dreams of being a professional dancer. She makes friends who each have their own dreams of grandeur that they seek throughout the movie. The plot certainly falls flat, but who’s actually watching this movie for anything other than the song and dance sequences?
“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)
It’s John Travolta in his heyday. He plays Tony, a hardware store employee who finds himself preparing for a dance competition and falling in love. Set to a classic disco soundtrack of the Bee Gees, he and his friends navigate the ups and downs of their lives and their relationships, crafting a now-nostalgic narrative representative of the culture at the time.
“Black Swan” (2010)
“Black Swan” is not like the previously listed movies, which have so far all been tied to the romantic comedy/drama genre. Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” definitely the most experimental and modern of the films on this list, subverts this idea and takes the classic ballet role into a psychological horror/thriller piece. Natalie Portman plays Nina, a ballet dancer vying for the dual role of the White Swan and Black Swan in “Swan Lake.” As she struggles to embody the uncontrollability and sensuality of the Black Swan, she becomes fixated on Lily, played by Mila Kunis, who seems to have these qualities. We’re plunged into Nina’s psyche in a film that’s very much centered around her obsessions and sexual awakenings as a ballet dancer.
Enjoy all (or at least a couple) of these movies this Saturday and get inspired!