Love Actually (2003)
The Moves: Only Hugh Grant could pull off the embarrassing dad dance to such an adorable level and still simultaneously make millions of people proud to be British. In one of his most loved performances as Prime Minister David, he struts his stuff around the vast rooms of 10 Downing Street to celebrate him telling America where to stick it. Go Team GB.
The Music: The Pointer Sisters – 'Jump (For My Love)'
The Artist (2011)
The Moves: The infectiously cheerful finale of The Artist features washed-up silent star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and talkie sensation Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) coming together to createa new trend in cinema: tap dancing. Their exhausting routine is hard to watch without a smile on your face.
The Music: The incredibly catchy 'Peppy and George' is performed by the Brussels Philharmonic
Scent Of A Woman (1992)
The Moves: He's blind and she doesn't know how to tango: it’s a recipe for disaster that somehow results in a charming and triumphant success on the dance floor. Retired army ranger Frank Slade (Al Pacino) persuades the glamorous Donna (Gabrielle Anwar) that they can do it: "There's no mistakes in the tango, not like life… If you get tangled up, just tango on.” Wise words.
The Music: 'Por Una Cabeza', the most popular Argentinean tango.
The Little Colonel (1935)
The Moves: Shirley Temple in full-on adorable mode hits the staircase with Bill Bonjangles Robinson to show us all that there is always a more fun way to take the stairs to bed when you’re not in the mood to simply walk.
The Music: Robinson sings a ditty about buying a fat hog while showing Temple his best moves.
The Moves: Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse play couple who fall in love after meeting in the mystical town of Brigadoon. They court each other on the romantic hills of Scotland (actually an MGM sound stage, as the real Scottish climate was deemed too unpredictable to use), dancing together so fluidly and with such affection as if they were truly meant to be.
The Music: Gene Kelly – 'The Heather on the Hill'
Stomp The Yard (2007)
The Moves: Stomp The Yard introduced us to the world of stepping – a percussive form of dance which relies on the participants involved producing their own rhythm using just their bodies. Cue heavy stomping, clapping and occasional shouts. Stomp The Yard ’s stepping is best demonstrated in the complex and energetic final dance battle in which the Theta Nu and Mu Gamma Xi fraternity crews take to the floor. It’s tense and impressive.
The Music: The dance crews create their own rhythms. Do we have to explain stepping again?
Save The Last Dance (2001)
The Moves: Midwestern ex-aspiring ballet dancer Sara (Julia Stiles) is taken under the wing of Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) when she relocates to a rough inner city Chicago school. Derek introduces Sara to some hip-hop moves to help her fit in the local dance scene but it’s when she fuses these with her own ballet skills, that sparks really begin to fly in the club.
The Music: Ice Cube – 'You Can Do It (Put Your Back Into It)'
The Moves: In this magical scene, Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks), a 12-year-old trapped in an adult body, stumbles across a foot-operated electronic keyboard. He has the winning combination of being childish enough to realize a wonderfully fun opportunity and being big enough to execute the moves. He is soon joined by huge toy company owner Mr MacMillan (Robert Loggia) who in turn let’s his own childish side out.
The Music: Hanks and Loggia warm up with 'Heart And Soul' and finish with 'Chopsticks'.
They Shoot Horses, Dont They? (1969)
The Moves: In a move which shatters the illusion of all dance-themed films being joy filled affairs, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? tells the story of Robert (Michael Sarrazin) and Gloria (Jane Fonda), a couple brought together on the floor of a grueling Depression era dance marathon. There is something very captivating about the pair as they slowly collapse wearily in each other’s arms after days of non-stop dancing.
The Music: The pair drudge along to several standard songs from the era.
Black Swan (2010)
The Moves: Highly strung yet talented ballet dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) finds herself on a self destructive path towards the perfect performance of both the white and black swan roles in Swan Lake . During the second act of the ballet, she finally loses herself in the part of the black swan, sprouting feathers to illustrate her complete embodiment.
The Music: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake score received a radical and dark makeover by Darren Aronofsky and Clint Mansell.
The Moves: Catherine Zeta Jones dazzles in an Oscar-winning performance as psychopathic vaudeville star Velma Kelly who finds herself in prison after a double homicide. Once behind bars, Kelly leads a string of murderesses in a sexy and explosive routine with more jazz hands and high kicks than you could shake a really big stick at.
The Music: The Cell Block chorus strut their stuff to the 'Cell Block Tango'.
Take the Lead (2006)
The Moves: Pierre Dulaine (Antonio Banderas) inspires a whole collection of misfit, no good kids when he startles them with a performance with his sexy tango partner (Laura Benanti). The routine is one of the most sensual tangos to ever grace the big screen or, as one of Pierre’s students so elegantly puts it: “Check Mr Dulaine just getting his flirt on”.
The Music: Bailongo - 'Asi se Baila el Tango'
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
The Moves: Before there were flashmobs and T-Mobile adverts, there was Ferris Bueller and his day off. Everyone's favourite high school truant crashes a street parade and leads the townspeople in a joy-filled mass dance. From builders to babies, everyone gets involved.
The Music: The Beatles - 'Twist and Shout'
You Got Served (2004)
The Moves: You Got Served follows the story of best friends David (Omarion Grandberry) and Elgin (Marques Houston) as they explore and compete in the fierce world of street dance competitions. With a fast-paced edit and plenty of cool aerial shots, the epic final dance battle transpires like a slick music video, showcasing some of the best individual and ensemble street and break dancing. People get served.
The Music: Joe Budden – 'Pump it Up'
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Moves: Several key players of the 1980s Brat pack tick off a variety of classic dance moves from the era in this highly entertaining montage. After smoking their way through a shared joint, the misfit Saturday detention students hit the library floor with their best moves, discarding their social labels and getting down together.
The Music: Karla Devito – 'We Are Not Alone'
Shall We Dance? (1996)
The Moves: Koji Yakusho plays Shohei, a successful businessman who takes to ballroom dancing to see him through his midlife crisis – a move influenced by his infatuation with mysterious dancer Mai (Tamiyo Kusakari). In a beautiful scene when Shohei finally takes his long awaited dance with Mai, it is his passion for his new found skill that embraces him rather than his desire for her.
The Music: Taeko Ohnuki - 'Shall We Dance?'
Step Up 3D (2010)
The Moves: Single-handedly justifying the existence of Step Up 3 is Chadd Smith, an American street dancer known for his enviable popping and robot style specialties. Although his character was seemingly completely irrelevant to the wafer-thin plot, his incredible robot moves were actually cool to watch in 3D.
The Music: Akira Kiteshi - 'Pinball'
The Moves: With such musical, award-winning parentage, Liza Minnelli was always destined to achieve some kind of dancing excellence on the big screen. In Cabaret , she picks up extra points for her creative use of furniture and excessively sexy leg work in the Mein Herr routine.
The Music: Liza Minnelli – 'Mein Herr'
Almost Famous (2000)
The Moves: Rock chick and free spirit Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) beautifully glides around an empty gig venue holding a single rose, blissfully unaware she is about to be sold for $50 and a case of beer. If you think you can bear the heartbreak, watch an extended version of the scene in Cameron Crowe’s director's cut.
The Music: Clarence Carter – 'Slip Away'
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Moves: While taking Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) out to lunch, Bert (Dick Van Dyke) becomes outnumbered and out-danced by four animated waiter penguins in this bright and gleeful sequence. Most charming of all is the fact that Bert adjusts his trousers to a penguin leg style so he can fit in with his waddling companions.
The Music: Dick Van Dyke – 'Jolly Holiday'
An American in Paris (1951)
The Moves: In what many have described as the Citizen Kane of dance films, Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron play Jerry and Lise, two lovers who just cannot be. The two are brought together in an enchanting and beautifully choreographed dance spectacular which takes place in Jerry’s mind when the two have seemingly parted for good.
The Music: George Gershwin’s 'An American in Paris'
The Moves: At the Rydell High School dance, the whole student body gives it their all when dancing the hand jive. Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy’s (Olivia Newton John) clean-cut synchronized routine is an adorable hit… at least, it is until that filthy harlot Cha Cha DiGregorio cuts in.
The Music: Johnny Casino & the Gamblers – 'Born to Hand Jive'
The King and I (1956)
The Moves: In a now classic scene, Anna (Debra Kerr) flounces around the room in an impossibly large dress, teaching King Mongkut (Yul Brynner) how to dance the polka. While they joyfully make their way around the grand floor, the atmosphere changes as King Mongkut suggests he should be holding Anna more intimately, in a European fashion, touching very gently on the unspoken chemistry between the pair.
The Music: Debra Kerr - 'Shall We Dance?'
White Nights (1985)
The Moves: In an electric and compelling sequence, Soviet ballet dancer Nikolai (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and African-American tap dancer Raymond (Gregory Hines) dance together side by side, both completing their identical routines flawlessly, but with notably different artistic styles. It is a rare chance to compare two very different approaches sharing the same screen space.
The Music: David Pack – 'Prove Me Wrong'
The Moves: Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals), a hard working welder by day and an exotic dancer by night, gets her shot at gaining a place at a prestigious dance school. In an awfully tense audition she makes a false start only to come back stronger with her sensational routine of flips, jumps, splits and shaking her behind on the judges table. We think she got in.
The Music: Irene Cara - 'Flashdance (What a Feeling)'
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
The Moves: After a good two hours of hard-hitting drama and excitement, Danny Boyle treated us to a delightful and uplifting dance routine lead by reunited lovers Jamal (Dev Patel) and Latika (Freida Pinto), also paying homage to one of the most key traditions of Bollywood cinema: catchy dance numbers.
The Music: A. R. Rahman’s Oscar-winning 'Jai Ho'
American Beauty (1999)
The Moves: Kicking off Lester Burnham’s (a marvellous Kevin Spacey) mid-life crisis is Angela (Mena Suvari), his teenage daughter’s best friend and fellow cheerleader. During a standard cheerleading performance at the high school, Angela’s moves start to take a turn for the risqué as Lester fantasises she is putting on a show just for him.
The Music: A marching band cover of The Drifters' 'On Broadway' slips into Thomas Newman’s 'Root Beer'.
West Side Story (1961)
The Moves: In one of the strongest film openings of all time, the scene is quickly set as the Jets and the Sharks do battle in the most fierce and graceful way: through dance. The extensive sequence is stuffed with finger clicking, high kicks, jazz hands, dramatic leaps and ends in a big scrap. Now that’s a dance-off!
The Music: Things heat up to Leonard Bernstein’s prologue score.
The Moves: In the Glee -dominated age of shiny ensembles and carefully planned slick dance routines, there is now something very endearing and whimsical about the scene in Fame where Bruno’s father shows up outside the Performing Arts School. Blasting his son’s music from his cab, he inspires the students to dance wildly in the streets, shambolically prancing about on top of cars with no coordination.
The Music: Irene Cara - 'Fame'
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The Moves: It's hard to forget the hilariously inappropriate dance routine that Olive (Abigail Breslin) performs in the talent section of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Showcasing the burlesque moves choreographed by her grandfather, she horrifies the pageant audience but inspires her own family to join her on stage in a heart-warming display of unity.
The Music: Rick James - 'Superfreak'
Singin in the Rain (1952)
The Moves: In a now infamous sequence, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) merrily taps and splashes his way down the street, repeatedly twirling his umbrella as he physically demonstrates how happy Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) makes him feel. He does all this in not just any old rain but film studio rain: the heaviest rain of all.
The Music: Gene Kelly – 'Singin’ in the Rain'
The Moves: Prancing Ostriches. Ballerina Hippos. Bubble-blowing Elephants and an alligator dance troupe. There's nothing more to say.
The Music: The comical routine is set to Amilcare Ponchielli's 'Dance Of The Hours'
Swing Time (1936)
The Moves: In an outstanding three-minute continuous shot, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers complete some of their most technically brilliant footwork. Matched with their natural tender chemistry, this illustrates exactly why they deserve their iconic status in dance film history. Their heartbreaking dance as parting, can-never-be lovers in Swing Time says more than any amount dialogue could.
The Music: Fred Astaire – 'Never Gonna Dance'
Step Up (2006)
The Moves: In a romantic rooftop dance sequence to rival Strictly Ballroom 's, privileged ballet dancer Nora (Jenna Dewan) shows disadvantaged youth Tyler (Channing Tatum, long before he strutted his stuff in Magic Mike ) how a canon dance works as the sun sets around them. Real-life couple Dewan and Tatum are now married. Aww.
The Music: Gina Rene – 'U Must Be'
Risky Business (1983)
The Moves: An incredibly young-looking Tom Cruise is Joel Goodson, a wealthy teenager who demonstrated what we all do (or wish we do) when we are left home alone. In a sequence that has been parodied endlessly, Goodson slides into his living room in just his pants and a shirt and proceeds to rock out and mime with his candlestick microphone.
The Music: Bob Seger – 'Old Time Rock and Roll'
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
The Moves: Elvis Presley fully utilises his famous swinging hips as Vince Everett, a former prisoner turned singing sensation. Everett performs his hit number 'Jailhouse Rock' on television complete with a funky stylised prison cell set and vigorously dancing inmates with cardboard instruments. Jail has never looked so fun.
The Music: Elvis Presley - 'Jailhouse Rock'
Center Stage (2000)
The Moves: Much like classic ballet film The Red Shoes , Center Stage attempts the ballet-within-a-film trick except this attempt is much more comical, a little more sexy and involves a motorbike on stage. However, within this farcical sequence is a gem of ballet battle in which Cooper (Ethen Stiefel) and Charlie (Sascha Radetsky) duel for Jody’s (Amanda Schull) affections.
The Music: Ruff Ends - 'If I Was the One'
The Moves: In a film not short of great dance sequences, it is the endearing montage in which Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) teaches his best buddy Willard (Christopher Penn) how to dance his way to Rusty’s heart (Sarah Jessica Parker) that wins out. Highlights include the boys trying out their footwork down the school corridors and on the bleachers.
The Music: Denise Williams's Let's 'Hear It For the Boy' is the perfect fit.
42nd Street (1933)
The Moves: 42nd Street is another film filled with dazzling routines, however final number and title song '42nd Street' really raises the bar. As Peggy Sawyer, Ruby Keeler leads a tap dancing extravaganza which climaxes with a large group of chorus girls falling into formation and creating a impressive cityscape out of cardboard cutouts – take that, CGI.
The Music: Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell tackle the title track 'Forty-Second Street'
The Moves: This stunning 3D documentary exploring the work of German choreographer Pina Bausch can effectively be viewed as one extended dance sequence, as it's heaving with enthralling performances. However, just about standing out is a beautiful piece entitled ‘Trust’ which explores a dancer’s faith in her partner. A backwards-tracking camera adds momentum to the sequence, making it a tense test of nerves for the dancers and the audience.
The Music: Thom Hanreich - 'Rooftop'
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Moves: More moving and romantic than most live-action dances is the waltz between Belle and the Beast in this Disney classic. Belle gently leads and teaches the Beast how to dance with her, and the pair end up twirling around in a stunningly animated ballroom.
The Music: The Oscar-winning 'Beauty and the Beast' is sung by Angela Lansbury
Billy Elliot (2000)
The Moves: A pent-up, highly emotional young Billy (Jamie Bell), torn between his passion for dance and his father’s objections towards the art form, dances out his anger and frustration on the streets of Durham. His dance takes him up many stairs, in an outhouse, across a football match and on the rooftops.
The Music: The Jam – 'A Town Called Malice'
Top Hat (1935)
The Moves: Fred Astaire has never looked classier than as love struck Jerry Travers. In his sophisticated top hat and tails, twirling his cane, he not only confidently leads a large troupe of dancers, but he then taps his way through one of his most enjoyable and celebrated solos. And when his chorus returns quite threateningly, he takes them out one by one using his cane to mime a variety of weapons. What a gent!
The Music: Astaire himself leads the crooning in 'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails'
Strictly Ballroom (1992)
The Moves: Novice dancer Fran (Tara Morice) begins her ugly duckling transformation by removing her glasses and dancing into the arms of the hunky maverick Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio). The pair develop their skills and their chemistry on the roof of the dancehall in front of one of the most obvious and glittering product placements of all time. Ah, Romance.
The Music: Cyndi Lauper - 'Time After Time'
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Moves: Jon Heder's loveable loser Napoleon Dynamite performs a hilarious rendition of his favourite self-taught moves (straight from a D-Qwons Dance Grooves instructional video) in aid of his best friend Pedro’s student president election campaign. Napoleon’s sweet skills earn him a standing ovation from the student body.
The Music: Never has Jamiroquai's 'Canned Heat' been grooved to so hard.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
The Moves: John Travolta managed to personify the entire 70s disco movement as Tony Manero, a young man from Brooklyn who finds escapism from his mundane life on the dance floors of Brooklyn discos. Tony reigns over the disco scene when he teams up with Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney). Their final dance display is made all the more iconic by Travolta’s sharp white suit.
The Music: Bee Gees - 'More Than a Woman'
The Red Shoes (1948)
The Moves: Moira Shearer did the whole tortured-for-her-art ballerina thing long before Natalie Portman was even born. As Victoria Page, Shearer is mesmerisingly flawless and captivating as she dances her way through the magical and unnerving masterpiece that is the 'Ballet of The Red Shoes'.
The Music: The spellbinding 'Ballet of The Red Shoes' performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Moves: John Travolta and Uma Thurman play the incredibly high Vincent Vega and Mia Walllace who take the twist contest at 50s themed restaurant Jack Rabbit Slims very seriously. Kicking off their shoes and applying some serious game faces, the two are in it to win it.
The Music: Chuck Berry - 'You Never Can Tell'
Dirty Dancing (1987)
The Moves: Strong-minded and idealistic Baby (Jennifer Grey) has a family holiday she will never forget when she falls for hunky dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). As he teaches her how to dance, she teaches him how to be a better man. They end their summer taking over Kellerman's last show of the season with their own kind of dancing, and triumphantly pulling off that difficult lift.
The Music: Final dances at family functions and school discos have been changed forever since Billy Medley & Jennifer Warnes belted out 'I've Had the Time of My Life'
The Gold Rush (1925)
The Moves: Charlie Chaplin's loveable tramp daydreams he is hosting the party with the girl he loves. Surrounded by adoring faces, he ingeniously struts his stuff with cutlery and bread rolls in one of the most memorable scenes in film history.
The Music: What? The greatest dance sequence in the whole of cinema history is from a silent film? Initially, yes. However, Chaplin himself had the film rereleased seventeen years after it’s original debut with a Oscar-nominated musical score from Max Terr.