If you want to have someone take a look into the world of dance, dance movies offer a dramatized but fun perspective of the community. They serve the purpose of getting dancers and non-dancers excited about the art. A dance film usually features many memorable dance scenes, but another aspect that it should have is a good story. There are many dance movies that tell pretty great stories and have strong characters that may serve as a source of inspiration, as well. We are going to list some dance movies that you may find encouraging and motivating. These films don’t just feature dance scenes, but they also show some of the highs and lows of being a new dance student or professional. You may find that some of these stories relate to your own dance experiences!
Take the Lead
This movie is partially based on the life and work of Pierre Dulaine, a dance instructor who founded Dancing Classrooms, a social and emotional development program for fifth-grade children that uses ballroom dance as a vehicle to change their lives. In the film, Pierre’s character offers to teach dance to a group of troubled high schoolers in detention. The children are reluctant to learn from him at first, but they eventually take an interest in dance and even end up entering a local competition.
Take the Lead is inspiring for both dancers and non-dancers because it shows how dance can positively impact people’s lives. The film also serves the purpose of informing people of Dancing Classrooms’ mission which is to help develop essential life skills of children through art and social dance.
Shall We Dance?
This romantic comedy is actually a remake of a 1996 Japanese film of the same name. It is about a lawyer who seemingly has a perfect life, but still feels like something is missing. After spotting a beautiful woman through the window of a dance studio, he impulsively signs up for lessons hoping to meet her. After dancing for a while, he actually ends up falling in love with dance, and even enters a competition. By teaching the lawyer, the dance teacher also ends up reigniting her passion for dance, as well. Even though his lessons bring him joy, he ends up hiding his newfound passion from his family and coworkers. Most of the movie involves him trying to keep his secret while his wife grows more suspicious, believing that he is secretly having an affair.
This movie parallels the lives of many people who start dancing in order to add something “new and exciting” to their lives. While many dancers don’t necessarily go to such comical lengths to hide it from their friends and family, there is sometimes an initial worry that others may think negatively about dancers (especially when they are male). Overtime, people grow to overcome certain insecurities and negative beliefs about dance and become confident enough to share their interest with others around them.
This is an entertaining drama about a professional ballroom dancer who comes from a family of dancers. He struggles to establish his own personal style while also preparing for a big championship. He ends up losing a competition because his flashy moves aren’t considered “strictly ballroom”, and his dance partner leaves him. His overbearing parents attempt to find him a new partner before the championships, but he ends up partnering with an overlooked “beginner” at his family’s studio. The rest of the movie involves him and his new partner trying to work together despite the disapproval from the main character’s parents and the dance committee that doesn’t approve of the couple’s unique style.
This movie is inspiring for any dancers who may be struggling to find their own special style or identity within dance. Like the main character and his partner, they may initially be looked down on by others, but they eventually find what makes them happy, even if it isn’t the “standard” or “norm” in the dance world. Overall, the film encourages individuality and creativity in all dancers.
Let’s take a step back from the world of ballroom to focus on ballet! Center Stage is a movie about young ballet students and their journey after being accepted to a ballet academy. During their residency, they experience a lot of physical and mental stress while fighting for a coveted spot in a prestigious dance company. Each character struggles with their own individual problems, including having the “wrong body type”, getting along with the instructors, and being pressured by family expectations. Over the course of the film, they work through their struggles and learn that they can still achieve their goals and be happy while also staying true to themselves and rising above the harsh critiques of the academy.
Even though this movie doesn’t focus on ballroom, it does a pretty good job of showing how stressful the life of a dancer can be, especially if they are working towards becoming a professional. What ultimately matters is dancers’ health and happiness. The characters in the film all decide to take a step back from their regular routines in the ballet academy and they eventually gain new perspectives about their personalities, styles, and careers. Like these characters, many dancers just need to change up their regular routines or environments in order to find their full potential in dance.
Mad Hot Ballroom
This is actually a documentary about the lives of fifth-graders from various schools in New York City and their journey as they prepare for a local competition. The movie follows them as they develop from reluctant novices, to focused competitive dancers. Their dance lessons build up to a competition to find the school with the best dancers. Over time, their dance skills grow, but they also end up discovering new things about themselves as individuals. (Fun fact: Pierre Dulaine also makes an appearance in this documentary, too!)
This film is inspirational to dancers because it may remind them of their own dance journeys. After dancing for a while, many people come to realize that dancing does more for them than just helping them physically. Dance can help improve other aspects of their lives such as social interactions, mental and emotional health, and overall confidence. Many dancers will say that dance helped improve the quality of their lives in some way, similar to how the children in the documentary have their lives changed for the better.
Happy Dancing ^_^