Looking for one of the best dance movies to stream online? We’ve brought together 8 of our top picks for movies that are all about smooth moves, slick choreography, and plots centering around love for the boogie.
The dance movie has a rich cultural legacy by now, and we’re not talking about movies of musicals (for the most part). Rather than just movies with a lot of jazz hands, the best dance movies put excellent dance moves front and center while engaging with the love, obsession, or distrust of dance.
So whether that’s the town that banned dancing, the hip-hop dancers learning to love classical dance (and vice versa), or ballerinas having a crisis of identity, there’s a broad discography of dance movies tackling dance from every angle – and here are the best of the lot.
1. Yeh Ballet (Netflix)
This indie dance film is a Netflix Original about two boys from Mumbai, India, who learn to love ballet and set their sights on a professional dance academy in the United States. With a tense rivalry, disapproving family members, and an irate teacher to deal with, there’s plenty holding them back from greatness, but Yeh Ballet charts their rise to greatness with tenderness, humor, and beautifully-shot choreography that gets at the pain, the beauty, and the frustration of committing your all to your art.
Based on a true story, with real-life dancer Manish Chauhan playing a fictionalized version of himself in the movie, the film treads the line between biopic and reality with great results. And yes, there are subtitles.
Yeh Ballet is streaming on Netflix
2. Dirty Dancing (Hulu, Amazon)
This classic coming-of-age film from 1987 is still a must-watch dance movie today. In it, Baby (played by Jennifer Grey) and her family go to a seemingly mundane holiday resort in the Catskills, only for Baby to discover an underbelly of sensuous, ‘dirty’ dancing lessons led by a tight-leather-pants-wearing Johnny (Patrick Swayze). It’s a riot.
While the film is best remembered for the iconic lift of its finale, and the incredible theme song – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, which won numerous awards for best original song – there’s plenty else making this an unmissable movie. The film is incredibly smart about unpicking outdated attitudes towards sexual liberation, abortion and class snobbery, working to tell an empowering and heartfelt story.
Just steer clear of the 2004 remake, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, which pales in comparison to the original masterpiece.
Dirty Dancing is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
3. Footloose (Hulu, Amazon)
Is there anything more enjoyable than watching a fresh-faced Kevin Bacon dance with abandon in 1984’s Footloose? This classic dance movie takes place in a small American town that has banned dancing and rock music at the behest of a local minister – until a new youth called Ren (Kevin Bacon) arrives to shake things up and get the town in love with dancing once again.
This film is possibly best known for one beautifully indulgent sequence, where Kevin Bacon boogies at night through an abandoned warehouse to vent his frustrations. But there's plenty of emotional heft in how the film threads in the pain of absent fathers, lost children, and the slippery slope of censure.
Footloose is streaming on Hulu and Starzplay (via Amazon Prime TV channels)
4. Black Swan (Amazon)
This psychological thriller from 2010 isn’t quite as feel-good as other choices in this list, but it’s certainly worth a watch. Starring Natalie Portman as a ‘good girl’ ballerina, the film charts her rise to greatness – and descent into madness – as she trains for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
In her desire to play the dark and sensuous black swan, rather than the innocent white swan role, she ends up battling for control over herself – and the result is one of Daran Aronofksy’s greatest films to date. Also starring Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder.
Black Swan is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
5. Step Up (Amazon)
2006’s Step Up is remarkable both in how it launched the career of Channing Tatum and how it kicked off a series of lesser hip-hop dance film imitators – several of them also carrying the Step Up branding.
The first Step Up is the most worthwhile, though. In it, a troublemaking (and skilled hip-hop dancer) Channing Tatum is sentenced to community service at an esteemed dance school after trashing the premises with his friends. Things go his way, however, when ballet dancer Nora requires a new partner for her senior showcase, after her partner receives an injury – with romance blossoming as they learn each other’s respective styles, despite initial apprehension about each other.
Unlike a lot of later Step Up movies, Step Up 1 doesn’t let the story get buried under endless hip-hop routines – with a complex array of relationships (and dance styles) on show. Step Up 2 is a relatively worthwhile sequel, too, even if it follows too similar an arc to feel as fresh.
All five Step Up films are streaming on Amazon Prime Video
6. Saturday Night Fever (Amazon)
This iconic '70s dance movie elevated John Travolta to new heights of fame, and for good reason. He stars as Tony Manero, an aspiring disco dancer who takes to the clubs on Saturday night to distract from the tedium of his day job and tense relations with his parents.
With an excellent disco soundtrack by the Bee Gees, too, Saturday Night Fever will be a treat for your eyes and ears.
Saturday Night Fever is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
7. And Then We Danced (Amazon)
And Then We Danced tells the story of a dancer, Merab, training at the National Georgian ensemble, whose life is upended by the arrival of a rival male dancer who takes his spot in an upcoming routine – and stirs up new feelings in him.
As an exploration of desire, prejudice, and people doing what they can to get by – even if it means hiding what they are – it’s a powerful watch, even more so because of the homophobic protests around its screening in Georgia, where the film is set.
And Then We Danced is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
8. Hairspray (Amazon)
Want an easy watch? This film adaptation of the Hairspray musical is a lighthearted and largely joyous affair, following high schooler Tracy on her journey to appear on her favorite dance television show, the Corny Collins Show.
There’s a surprisingly star-studded cast, including a dashing Zac Efron, John Travolta in drag, and even Chrisopher Walken in a supporting role. The musical tackles heavier themes than its surface cheerfulness may suggest, too, with a plot centering around racial integration, body acceptance, and political protest – but it makes for a fun ride at the same time.
Hairspray is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
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