Our Public Programs Department's Favorite Dance Films of All Time

With dance and film on their minds—inspired by our Black Mountain College exhibition—our Public Programs department decided to think deeply about their favorite dance movies of all time—a daunting feat, no doubt, since a bad dance film is like a bad pizza (i.e., delicious nonetheless). Full blog post (with awesome videos): http://bit.ly/1MXayX5
  1. 1.
    "Dance, Girl, Dance" (1940)
    Featuring Maureen O’Hara as staid ballerina Judy and Lucille Ball as wild burlesque dancer Bubbles, the film uses dance and a love triangle as a means for female empowerment—a not-insignificant feat for a 1940s film.
  2. 2.
    "The Red Shoes" (1948)
    Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, this lush, romantic film is still the standard that ballet movies are judged against.
  3. 3.
    "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
    There isn’t much to say about this backstage musical that hasn’t been said before. As someone who dislikes musicals, this film wooed me with its choreography alone—the astonishing footwork of Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, and Cyd Charisse.
  4. 4.
    "Flashdance" (1983)
    Flashdance is a quintessentially ‘80s movie in all the best, and possibly worst, ways. Light on narrative cohesion and character development, despite an endearing debut performance by Jennifer Beals, the movie managed to excite audiences and rack up an impressive box office tally.
  5. 5.
    "Breakin'" (1984)
    It’s a total cheese-fest but brought the skill and grace of breakdancing into the mainstream, made the dance-battle a mainstay of the genre, and featured the on-screen debuts of Ice-T (!) and Jean Claude Van Damme (!!).
  6. 6.
    "Paris is Burning" (1990)
    Jennie Livingston’s documentary about 1980s ball culture and transgender Black and Latino communities delves deep into a vibrant subculture defined by fashion, complex social webs and hierarchies, and an overall embrace of freedom of expression and identity.
  7. 7.
    "Center Stage" (2000)
    Center Stage is a bad movie—BUT, as Hillary Bussis writes in Entertainment Weekly, it is actually a great movie in the “A thing you loved when you were 12 that’s still entertaining once you reach adulthood, despite how much of it is about feet” way.
  8. 8.
    "Bring it On" (2000)
    Is Bring It On a dance movie or a sports movie? Probably both, but we’re counting it as firmly in the dance-musical camp because like the movie says, “this is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy.”
  9. 9.
    "Step Up" (Franchise)
    Aside from giving Channing Tatum (bless him) his big-screen chance to show off his exotic dance education (bless it!) and providing work for legions of back-up dancers, this franchise also bestowed upon us an excellent iterative naming system worthy of The Naked Gun and The Fast and Furious (Step Up 2 the Streets, Step Up 3D, Step Up Revolution, Step Up: All In).
  10. 10.
    "Magic Mike" (Franchise)
    See first part of entry above.