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Our Favorite Ballroom Dance Movies

# Dance Culture

As summer ends and the crisp air, warm blankets, and scented candles of fall appear, we can’t help but daydream about cozy times on the couch...relaxing after dance practice, curled up with a mug of our favorite hot beverage and ballroom dance movie. 

While the selection of dance movies can be vast, ballroom movies have a special place in our hearts. In case you need to queue up some classics, check out our list of favorite ballroom movies and why we love them.

Shall We Dance (2004)

Lawyer John Clark (Richard Gere) is burnt-out from the arduous lifestyle of an attorney. On his commute home, he often sees patrons dancing in a ballroom studio. One evening, intrigued, John steps into a ballroom class—he hasn’t brought his wife along, and doesn’t tell his family about his new hobby. John falls in love with dance and develops a friendship with one of his dance instructors, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez). Meanwhile, John’s wife hires a private investigator because she is convinced that something fishy is going on with her husband. After finding out the truth, John’s wife and daughter show up at his dance competition to support him. In a shocking turn of events, John steps away from dance (we later learn this was only momentary) and attempts to repair his relationship with his wife and children. 

Where to watch: for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: This movie sheds light on both social and competitive ballroom dance, giving you an idea of the diverse opportunities available. Additionally, it is a reminder that dance brings a sense of joy and accomplishment that you may be lacking in your daily schedule, overall improving your quality life.

Fun fact: Dance Vision Certified Instructor Professional, Holly Johnson, choreographed and taught dancers in this movie—and even appears in it herself.


Footloose (2011)

Three years after a fatal car accident and subsequent death of five teens rattles a Reverend Shaw Moore's (Dennis Quaid) town, teenage Ren MacCormack (Kenny World) moves from bustling Boston to the dilapidated small-town of Bomont, Georgia. At his new high school, Ren learns of the town ban on dancing, put into effect by Revered Moore in an attempt to keep kids home during the dangerous hours of the night. At a Sunday church service with his Aunt and Uncle, Ren meets Reverend Moore's daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough). Ariel, who is somewhat of a free spirit, loves to dance, and is not interested in following the new town rules. As April and Ren become close, they discover a shared love for dance and work to fight the antiquated dance ban of Bomont.

Where to watch: for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it:  The music in Footloose is electric and makes us want to jump up and DANCE! Country, line dancing, and ballroom all come into play in this movie. The joy in this movie as dancers move to the music is almost palpable, and (spoiler alert!) watching the town come together through the very thing that had tore them apart is a beautiful tale of triumph.

Fun fact: Dance Vision Certified Instructor Professional, Dancing with the Stars Professional, and creator of Kinrgy, Julianne Hough is the main star of this inspiring dance movie.


Take the Lead (2006)

Based on a true story about professional dancer and creator of the dancing classrooms programs, Pierre Dulaine, Take the Lead tells the story of a renowned dancer who implements a dancing curriculum into an otherwise disregarded detention program at a local high school. Dulaine (Antonio Banderas), works with many students who have already faced extreme pain and difficulty in their lives despite only being in high school. Students whom other teachers blew off as hopeless become confident and competent dancers with the help of a mentor who is dedicated to their success, but serves a little bit of tough love as well.

Where to watch: for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: Everyone loves a great underdog story. Antonio Banderas is a great dancer and clearly committed to his role. The stories of the youth in this movie are heartbreaking and real, mixed with exciting music and fun dance scenes to create a well-rounded film.


Dirty Dancing (1987)

Spending the summer at a relaxed resort was not the idea of youthful, summer fun that Baby (Jennifer Grey) had in mine. After stumbling upon a rowdy dance party held by the resort’s young staff members, Baby realizes that the staff love to dance - and its nothing like she’s ever seen before. The star of the dance parties is also the star of the stage at the resort - dance instructor to the wealthy patrons, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), is first very dismissive of Baby. However, after needing a new dance partner for his stage show and not having a lot of options, he enlists the help of Baby and teaches her to dance from the ground up. Johnny and Baby fall quickly in love despite many ups and downs throughout the weeks at the summer camp.

Where to watch: free on HBO Max Go, DirecTV, for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: An absolute classic—Dirty Dancing depicts the beauty of social dancing and tells a youthful love story. This movie shows heartbreak, joy, and a sheer love for dance all in one place.


Dance with Me (1998)

A young dancer from Cuba, Rafael (Chayanne) moves to the United States for a job as a handyman at a dance studio, hired by a man named John (Kris Kristofferson), an old friend of Rafael’s late mother. While initially hired to do work around the dance studio, instructor’s and student’s at the studio quickly come to realize Rafael’s natural dance talent. Rafael begins to fall in love with one of the dancers at the studio, Ruby (Vanessa Williams), and makes friends with other dancers. Dance with Me follows Rafael’s journey through dance and even to uncover the truth about his long lost father.

Where to watch: free on Showtime, DirecTV, for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: Dance with Me is romantic and heartwarming. It has a great combination of social Latin dancing as well as International and American styles that can be enjoyed by any ballroom dancer.


Strictly Ballroom (1992)

A somewhat satirized depiction of the glitzy world of ballroom dance, yet utterly endearing and heartwarming story, Strictly Ballroom is an Australian classic and a favorite of many ballroom dancers. Talented dancer Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) is frustrated with the red-tape of the ballroom industry his dance studio. His desire to break out of the ballroom-mold and dance his own steps leads him to dance with novice dancer Fran (Tara Morice), who agrees that she will dance with Scott the way that he wants to dance. Despite many odds, Scott and Fran compete in the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix and may even fall in love.

Where to watch: for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: Strictly Ballroom is hilarious, relatable, and full of fun costumes. For all of the “LOL” moments in this movie, there are equal tenderhearted scenes. Not to mention, every dancer can relate to wanting to do their own thing and just not knowing how to start!


Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)

The only documentary film of the group, Strictly Ballroom profiles teachers and young elementary school students across New York City as they dive into a year’s worth of ballroom dance classes. The documentary allows the audience to get to know the children, gain their comical perspectives on experiencing ballroom dancing for the first time, and see how these young people are transformed throughout the process. Culminating in a citywide competition with other students in the same dance program at their school, the dancers blossom into confident youth with a valuable new skill.

Where to watch: free on Showtime, for a small fee on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, VuDu, Apple TV

Why we love it: The young dancers in Mad Hot Ballroom are hilarious! Observing this documentary tell their unique stories is undoubtedly the best part of this film. Many dancers can relate to experiencing what these youth did when they first began dancing but would never say these words out loud...well, just leave it to kids to get that job done.


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