8 Best Ballroom Dancing Movies of All Time

  • Since its development in the early 20th century, ballroom dancing craze has spanned across the globe. Accordingly, films about the passion, dedication, and spirit of ballroom dancers have appeared over the past fifty years.

    Here are the top 8 ballroom dancing films of all time:

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 8

    Swing Kids – 1993

    In Nazi Germany a group of close friends gather in secret to listen to banned American Swing music and dance the night away. As the Third Reich grows in power, the friends’ bond  is put to the ultimate test as each must make difficult choices of survival. The music alone drove crowds to the theatres. The infectious beat and bright, blaring horns of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” had audiences toe-tapping while actors on screen performed the most extravagant tosses, twirls, and slides of East Coast Swing!  The film starred two unknown actors – Robert Sean Leonard of today’s “House” fame, and Christian Bale, who currently stars in the blockbuster Batman films.

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 7

    Dance with Me – 1998

    A Cuban handyman (Puerto Rican Pop star Chayanne ) falls for a dance instructor (Vanessa Williams) in this film about romance, struggle, and red hot dance! Latin moves combine with current and more traditional music. In the end, of course, there is a major dance competition, and Williams and Chayanne dance off into the sunset.

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 6

    Shall We Dance? – 1997 & 2004

    The original version was written and filmed in Japan in 1997. In 2004 the film was remade in the U.S. starring Richard Gere as an overworked accountant whose marriage has gone stale and a beautiful  dance instructor, played by Jennifer Lopez, who inspires him to learn ballroom dancing and reignites his passion and youthful spirit. Dancers of all levels can relate to the accountant’s bumbling ways as he first learns proper hold, posture, and figuring as well as the unexpected confidence and joy he experiences as he begins to master certain techniques. Dancing not only breathes new life into him, it changes the way he sees himself and the world, and re-sparks his relationship with his wife, played by Susan Sarandon.

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 6

    Mad Hot Ballroom – 2005

    Mad Hot Ballroom is the acclaimed documentary of eleven-year-old New York City public school students as they prepare for and compete in a citywide dance competition. The children transform along their journey from embarrassed to be dancing with the opposite sex, to serious, hard-working competitors. Seen from the kid’ perspectives as they master merengue, tango, rumba, foxtrot, and swing, the film reveals the heart and soul of learning to dance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and triumphant, Mad Hot Ballroom is a must see for dancers and non-dancers alike!

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 5

    Strictly Ballroom - 1992

    This romantic comedy by Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmhann follows the tale of Scott Hastings, who has been training in ballroom dancing since childhood with his eye on the {an-Pacific Grand Prix, only to discover that his joy lies in creating his own steps. After refusing to conform he loses his dance partner and is surprised when “Ugly Duckling” dance student Fran volunteers to replace her. Although all of the dance community is against them and they are disqualified at the competition, they dance anyway and bring down the house with their own version of the Paso Doble. For anyone who has colored outside the lines, the indomitable spirit of this film is for you!

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 3

    Tale the Lead - 2006

    This film tells the true story of Pierre Dulaine (Antonio Banderas), a former professional dancer who, upon witnessing vandalism and unrest of the high school students in his New York City neighborhood, volunteers to teach ballroom dancing to kids in detention. He must fight ignorance, prejudice, and hostilities between students, parents, and teachers, he catches the kids’ attention with a passionate tango and keeps their interest and hard work through the respect, dignity, confidence, trust, and teamwork that ballroom dancing fosters. This is a feel-good story of a man who used dance to truly make a difference in the world.

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 2

    Dirty Dancing - 1987

    Although it’s arguable which is the best ballroom dancing film ever made, Dirty Dancing is certainly the most popular and spread the dance fever far into the “layman’s” world.  In this coming of age tale set in the Catskills in 1963, “Baby” (Jennifer Grey) falls for her dance instructor (Patrick Swayze) and begins a brief and secret affair. As she learns to dance she grows into a woman and in the end they stop the show with one of the most to womanhood under the dancing instruction of Johnny. In the end, they beat the odds and stop the shop with one of the most memorable dance sequences in film history.

    Dirty Dancing was such a box office success it spawned a musical, a singing and dance tour, a video game, two television series, and a 2004 sequel “Dirty Dancing Havana Nights.”

    Ballroom Dancing Movie # 1

    Swing Time - 1936

    Back to the time that started it all. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were instrumental in the evolution of American ballroom dance. Astaire plays Lucky who ventures to New York to raise $25,000 so he can marry his fiancée. Rogers plays Penny, a beautiful dance instructor who partners with Lucky. Although he is engaged to another and she is involved with the band leader, song and dance overcome all obstacles they succumb to their love for each other. The film features some spectacular dance numbers and award-winning music, notably “Pick Yourself Up,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” Never Gonna Dance,” and “Waltz in Swing Time.”