Top 10 Movie Dance Scenes

Top 10 Movie Dance Scenes

No movie scene can better capture the feel and emotion between two characters than a good dance scene. Whether it’s depicting a conflict of emotions, letting one’s hair down after hardship or falling in love, you can depend on a well choreographed and acted dance scene to really get the message across in a way that no other scene can.

Over the years moviegoers have been lucky enough to be spoilt with an exquisite smorgasbord of great dance scenes. Some are huge group dance numbers featuring ballet, jazz contemporary and hip hop whilst others are song and dance musical numbers. Of course movie dance scenes we love at QuickSteps feature the art of partner dancing. A mix of ballroom, Latin and swing to create memorable, timeless movie scene to be watched over and over again. Here are a few of our favourites.

1 Make Your Move

Who: Derek Hough and BoA

When: 2013

Dance: Interesting blend of dancing in partner dance position, contemporary, side by side moves, acrobatics

Pay attention: A little bit of theatrical that sneaks in at 2:08mins!

Why we like it: It is this entertaining blend of styles coupled with Derek Hough’s outstanding natural ability and showmanship that makes this scene really work.

2 Swing Time

Who: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

When: 1936

Dance: Tap/Quickstep

Pay attention: Keep an eye out for the beautiful lift work at 2:10mins.

Why we like it: Even if tap is not a style you love you have to respect the absolute perfection in this routine. Every move is neat, energetic and perfectly executed. This is the case with many of this famous duo’s routines and it is said to come down to Fred Astaire’s perfectionist streak. He would practise for hours on end causing fights with Ginger. Although the couple are said to have had a tense and explosive relationship off screen it never showed once the camera was rolling!


3 Shall We Dance

Who: Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon

When: 2004

Dance: Romantic swaying

Pay attention: Susan’s friends reaction is priceless at 2:01mins!

Why we like it: What this dance scene lacks in technical prowess and impressive moves, it makes up for in pure heart. What an emotional scene… Well done Richard.

4 Shall We Dance

Who: Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez

When: 2004

Dance: Tango

Pay attention: multiple travelling pivots at 1:25mins, very difficult maneuver very well executed

Why we like it: Any dancer will tell you that when it comes to a good routine, step patterns are only the beginning. To really dance well you have to be filled with passion. You must believe in what you are dancing and the story you are telling or the feeling that you are portraying. This sexy tango scene from Shall We Dance is a favourite amoung dance teachers because it is clearly depicts the moment that the student (Richard Gere) learns to feel the dance rather than just dance the dance. Perfection.

5 Take the Lead

Who: Antonio Banderas and Katya Virshilas

When: 2006

Dance: Ballroom tango/Argentine tango blend

Pay attention: The lift straight into a drop and lunge at 2:10mins

Why we like it: This scene is used as the turning point in the movie. The delinquent/’bad kids’ are made to see how cool and sexy dance can be when a beautiful woman walks into their classroom and without saying a word puts on a display of pure tango passion with their teacher Mr.Dulaine (Antonio Banderas). The choreography and footwork for this tango are relatively simple but the fabulous camera work and the occasional comment from the stunned students makes it one to remember. Damn! Mr.Dulaine is gettin’ his flirt on!

6 Scent of a Woman

Who: Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar

When: 1992

Dance: Ballroom tango

Pay attention: Watch Donnas face and body language at 2:50mins, you can see that she is starting to get into it and relax

Why we like it: How could you not love this scene?! Al pacino plays Frank Slade a blind ex army officer with charm and attitude that unexpectedly sweeps a young stranger off of her feet and teaches her to tango in front of a crowded restaurant. You can see the young woman’s apprehension as they walk out onto the floor but this has all melted away by the halfway point and you can see her really starting to relax and enjoy her ‘tango moment’. The song they are dancing to, Por Una Cabeza, is one of the world’s best known tango tunes and this movie has further cemented it in that category. The steps are ballroom tango in origin but are occasionally manipulated throughout the scene to make the dance more ‘flashy’.

7 Easy Virtue

Who: Jessica Biel and Colin Firth

When: 2008

Dance: Argentine tango with a bit of ballroom flare

Pay attention: The beautiful ‘spin to lean’ at 3.00mins, this takes trust and core strength from both partners

Why we like it: After asking for a tango to be played the striking and powerful Larita (Biel) scans her circle of onlookers for a suitable partner to dance with. After Major Jim Whittaker is deemed successful they tango together in the middle of the floor in front of mesmerized onlookers. As with many tango movie scenes the steps are basic and clean, made to look flashy and intricate through the use of clever camera work. Biels dress is stunning and moves like it was made to tango…

8 Dirty Dancing

Who: Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze

When: 1987

Dance: Mambo/Salsa ‘on 2’

Pay attention: The lift at 3:20mins has been made famous by this movie and is now commonly referred to in the dance industry as the ‘Dirty Dancing Lift’. If you want to do this one though be prepared to commit to lots of pilates and strength training!

Why we like it: The classic. Possibly one of the most referred to and imitated dance scenes of all time. Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) finally get their moment in the spotlight. All past difficulties seem forgotten as they salsa on the main stage at Kellerman’s Summer Resort one last time.

9 Grease

Who: John Travolta, Olivia Newton John and friends

When: 1978

Dance: Jive/Jitterbug/The hand Jive

Pay attention: At the 2:00mins mark the lifts and drops get crazy!

Why we like it: It’s time for the rock ‘n roll competition and at Rydell High they certainly put on a spectacle. Lifts, dips, drops and even piggy backs, this scene has it all. It’s overloaded with energy and jam packed with awesome retro outfits.

10 Dirty Dancing II ‘Havana Nights’

Who: Romola Garai and Diego Luna

When: 2004

Dance: A Latin cocktail of multiple styles

Pay attention: 2:57mins there is a great sequence from a spin in, spin out to a drag and lift

Why we like it: The colour and movement in this clip is dazzling. So many beautiful costumes to complement the showy dance moves. It starts with a complementary blend of salsa and samba, then finishes off with tango-esque lifts, drops and dips.


11 Strictly Ballroom

Who: Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice

When: 1992

Dance: A mix of rumba, waltz and tango moves

Pay attention: At the 1:00min mark you will see a great sequence that takes us from pivots to an inside turn and sweetheart shadow walks. Very smooth.

Why we like it: Scott finally starts to see Fran’s beauty and potential during this breathtaking dance to Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time. Using a hybrid of different ballroom and Latin dances the couple duck, weave and wind around a rooftop at sunrise. Director Baz Luhrmann has used the Coca Cola sign in the background as a creative and glitzy backdrop creating a visually iconic scene in Australian film.