Dancing is a form of therapeutic artistic expression of body movement that has captivated audiences since the dawn of man. Sadly for the cave men, they didn’t have video, but we do. Since the clock struck midnight and and the nation greeted Y2K, Hollywood has released dance movie after dance movie, distilling our minds with some of the best choreography on the big screen that we’ve ever seen.
I can still recall watching the epic last dance scene in Center Stage, or Billy Elliot’s relatable “angry dance.” I still get my life from the opening group battle in You Got Served. Why Omarion have to backflip on Columbus Short like that though?
These moments have us thinking about the multitude of other great dance films to be released since 2000. Take a trip down memory lane as we compiled our other favorite dance films (in no particular order).
Save the Last Dance (2001)
Ask any 90’s kid to list their favorite dance movies and we’ll bet that Save the Last Dance is on it. The timeless dance classic is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year. The film swept theatergoers off their feet in 2001 with an adorable take on young love in the inner cities of Chicago. The contagious dance chemistry between co-stars Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas is flawless and some of the best we’ve seen in any dance flick. Peep the video above if you don’t believe me. The films seamless mixture between street and modern dancing choreography is also the films strength, and is easily a must watch whenever it comes on TV.
The Artist (2011)
The final sequence of Michel Hazanavicius’s 2011 silent-movie masterpiece The Artist, alone could’ve won the films well-deserving Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor awards at the 84th Academy Awards. The joy on Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo’s faces as they tap dance their way into our hearts is simply irresistible. This lively and lovable comedy is full of personality and charm, regardless of it being a silent-picture. It’s a must-see for any dance or film lover.
Center Stage (2000)
I remember having some initial hesitation about seeing this movie. Would I be willing to suffer through the trials and tribulations of a main character learning ballet and going through the academy training to become a professional ballerina? Turns out I needed to chill, because the film wasn’t the struggle I thought it would be. It was actually fun to watch. This teen drama has everything — romance, sex, backstage back-stabbing, and amazing dance numbers like the one above. Center Stage is easily a best dance movie of all-time contender.
Stomp the Yard (2007)
Stomp the Yard isn’t the greatest movie, but it excelled at introducing moviegoers to the world of collegiate stepping infused with street dance to create unforgettable moments on the big screen. Spoiler Alert! If you love this movie and still don’t get emotional about Chris Brown meeting a tragic fate during his fire dance battle scene then you just need to cancel yourself.
Billy Elliot (2000)
The “dancing for dad” scene in Billy Elliot is one of the best dancing moments in the history of film. The social message being portrayed as a son opens up to his father about his passion to become a ballet star, despite his conservative coal miner father’s protests, is huge. It takes courage, and somehow a young Jamie Bell pulled it off with only one word of dialog in a two minute dance scene. What more is there to say? This film will go down as one of the best.
How She Move (2007)
In one of the only films featuring two girls battling it out through incredible stepping and street dancing, Rutina Wesley holds her own. Stepping is a very entertaining percussive dance that is like a distant cousin to tap dancing. The way it’s portrayed in How She Move is like nothing that has ever been put on the big screen before. In the clip above, two dancers step battle on the hood of a car trying to one up each other not only in dance moves, but in rhythmic sounds made with stomping on the car. Who does that?
Step Up (2006)
Who know’s how many more sequels Hollywood will cram out for Step Up, but no one will ever forget the first. A privileged modern dancer (Jenna Dewan Tatum) finds herself seeking help from a troubled street dancer (Channing Tatum) to perform in a life-changing dance showcase. Classic. The pair deal with classism throughout the film as they fall in love (They eventually got married IRL). It’s a modern day Romeo and Juliet played out through dance. What’s not to love?
Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan absolutely counts as a dance film, we’re not debating this. Natalie Portman’s performance was riveting and won her a well deserved Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actress. Black Swan is a dark psychological take on the ballet industry that is exciting and intoxicating from Portman’s flawless performance.
You Got Served (2004)
If you look past the bad acting, You Got Served is a fun ride. At the peak of street dance battling (now everyone’s dabbing and whipping) in pop culture this movie serves as its brand ambassador. From the films lit intro dance sequence (watch above), to the phrase “you got served” spreading like wild fire through school hallways, to celebrity cameos, to B2K and Marquees Houston in a movie together at the height of their career is enough pop culture moments for this flick to be added to this list.
Magic Mike (2012)
Low-key Magic Mike is a fun dance flick. Yes, the film is about male strippers, but watch Channing Tatum’s “Pony” dance and try to argue that this movie shouldn’t be on this list.
Happy Feet (2006)
Are you a fan of Footloose? Well here’s the animated version, but with penguins. Happy Feet brings some killer tap dance numbers as a dancing bird tries to find his own and impress his crush in a society where singing is the norm and dancing is outcasted. It’s a fun family flick, but packs on the heat with its impressive dancing/musical scenes.
La La Land (2016)
At this point, La La Land doesn’t even need an introduction. People living under a rock have heard that this movie is on its way to classic status. It all ready broke the record for most wins at the Golden Globes and will be a sure winner when Oscar season hits. La La Land’s greatness comes from its ability to provoke ambition, love, and imagination simultaneously with its incredible dance scenes and contagious chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. If you’re looking for the perfect date night movie, you found it.
Watch choreographer Tanisha Scott and the Banji Twerk Team shows off the rich history and biggest trends in hip-hop dance from the ‘70s to present day.