15 Dance Movies That Aren't 'Dirty Dancing' But Are Still Worth A Watch

Kick off your Sunday shoes and get watching.

On this day in 1987, we were introduced to Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle, two characters that would become almost instantly iconic thanks to the movie “Dirty Dancing.” 

When it comes to dance movies, “Dirty Dancing” is among the best ― the fashion is great, it hits on important topics like abortion and class divisions in the U.S. and it features some serious mambo magic. Oh yeah, and who could forget that lift? 

Today, while we heartily encourage you to have the time of your life watching “Dirty Dancing” to celebrate its 30th anniversary, we’ve also compiled a list of other dance movies (no sequels or remakes included, because we all know those are never really good) that are definitely worth a shot. 

For this one time, and one time only, it’s OK to put Baby in the corner. Kick off your Sunday shoes and get watching.

  • "Center Stage," 2000
    Despite the terrible acting in "Center Stage," this dance movie has so much going for it: real dancers (Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky 4ever), Zoe Saldana putting out a cigarette with the tip of her pointe shoe and Peter Gallagher's glorious eyebrows. And of course, all the drama culminates into one amazing final dance routine that will never not get Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat" stuck in your head.
  • "Save The Last Dance," 2001
    "Save the Last Dance" gave us some pretty great scenes -- Sean Patrick Thomas' Derek teaching Julia Stiles' Sara how to let go of her ballet training with some chairs, Stiles' penultimate Julliard audition, and of course, every moment Kerry Washington appears on screen. Aside from the actual dance aspect of the film, though, "Save the Last Dance" actually hits on some pretty heavy topics that remain relevant today, most notably, racism and the experience of being black in America.
  • "Honey," 2003
    Come for '00s era Jessica Alba choreographing basketball-inspired dance moves. Stay for the cameos by real-life hip-hop stars like Ginuwine, Tweet and best of all, Missy Elliot. The dancing kids are pretty amazing, too.
  • "Black Swan," 2010
    "Black Swan" follows a familiar narrative in the dance movie realm — main character faces a challenge (in this case, herself, her choreographer and the new girl) she must overcome to prove herself — and ends with an epic final number, but it definitely doesn't finish on an inspirational, feel-good note. It's dark and twisted and creepy, but it gets bonus points for its ultra-meta plot -- not only is Natalie Portman's character dancing the lead roles in Swan Lake, her actual life is mirroring the dark fairy tale (the origins of which are kind of a mixed bag).
  • "How She Move," 2007
    "How She Move" isn't the best movie of this bunch — it's very predictable — but as far as the actual dancing, it definitely keeps you interested. Plus, the main character is a fierce badass who isn't afraid to fight for what she wants, whether it be a spot on a dance crew or a chance to go to med school.
  • "Strictly Ballroom," 1992
    Before Baz Luhrmann gave us his interpretation of "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge," he gave us "Strictly Ballroom," with all the vibrant theatricality you'd expect from a Luhrmann film. The movie about a dancer literally dancing to the beat of his own drum boasts an impressive 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.  It's really worth a watch just for the stunning costumes alone.
  • "Step Up," 2006
    Much like "Save the Last Dance," the original "Step Up" follows a classically trained dancer learning to get down with a "street dancer," but it also introduced us to Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, and for that, we're forever grateful.
  • "Mao's Last Dancer," 2009
    "Mao's Last Dancer" is based on the true story of Li Cunxin, a Chinese ballet dancer who grew up poor in rural China and eventually become a principal dancer in America. It's an inspiring film with some beautiful dancing. Oh, and Jody Sawyer (Amanda Schull) makes an appearance!
  • "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," 1985
    What's not to love about 1980s-era Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt? 
  • "Flashdance," 1983
    What kind of dance movie list would this be if we didn't include "Flashdance"? The water scene? That audition? ICONIC. 
  • "Take The Lead," 2006
    "Take the Lead" is the type of dance movie that you'll watch if it comes on TV one day while you just so happen to be lazing on the couch with your mom who loves Antonio Banderas. (Don't all moms love Antonio Banderas?) It's based on the true story of Pierre Dulaine, who founded the Dancing Classrooms program, which aims to foster real-life skills through dance. It also features some sexy ballroom routines and performances by Jenna Dewan and YaYa DaCosta, so what more could you want?
  • "Breakin," 1984
    "Breakin" is worth a watch for various reasons. One, it features Ice-T in his film debut, two, it's wonderfully '80s, three, the soundtrack is awesome, especially if you're into electric funk and early hip-hop, and four, the dancing is great.
  • "Footloose," 1984
    The scene where Kevin Bacon dances like nobody's watching in the barn is a classic, and definitely reason enough to watch "Footloose." Plus, everyone in that final dance scene is having so much fun, it's hard not to want to kick off those Sunday shoes and get loose (Footloose!).
  • "Dance Academy," 2016
    Whether or not you watched the "Dance Academy" series -- which you all should, because it's great and terrible at the same time -- you should watch "Dance Academy: The Movie." Is it predictable? Yes. But it's got all the drama and heart you want in a dance movie, plus a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • "StreetDance," 2010
    The crux of "StreetDance" is basically the same as "Save the Last Dance" and "Step Up" -- you've got hip-hoppers and ballet dancers, who eventually work together to fuse their styles, leaving us with some pretty impressive dance routines. Oh, and Charlotte Rampling is in it, and she's great.
  • BONUS: "Bring It On," 2000
    We know, we know, "Bring It On" is a movie about cheerleaders and cheerleading, but it could easily be argued that it's a dance movie. There's choreography, spirit fingers, a montage of the team learning new moves and, of course, the epic final performance. Aside from the fact you may or may not consider it a dance movie, it's definitely one of the best teen movies of the early 2000s, and that alone makes it worth a watch. 


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