I believe a strong love for dance starts with watching great dance! As a child I was often glued to my TV screen watching dance movie after dance movie, each one inspiring me in a different way. There were some I watched over a dozen times each and dreamed of one day being a dancer in a movie myself. While I haven't realized that dream (yet), it was those movies and dreams that kept me working hard in class, trying new styles and gave me the courage to keep pursuing my dreams.
You don't have to be a dancer to love watching dance movies. You only have to appreciate the art and lessons that can be learned from it. In our house, even with 3 boys, we watch a lot of dance movies together and I want to encourage you to make one of your family movie nights a dance movie night.
We have collected a number of movies to inspire the dancer in you and your child. Some we’ve pulled from the classic “golden era” of Hollywood, and others bridge the gap between the 1960s and the deluge of dance movies from the early 2000s. Check out these movies and help your child find inspiration and motivation inside some of their favorite characters.
Dance movies for young children and the whole family:
Dance movies for teens and adults:
Mary Poppins (G), live action, some animation
A classic children’s film, from 1964 with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins features Andrews’ amazing singing voice and capacity for classical, elegant dancing, as she plays a magical nanny for an upper crust London family. One of the most famous scenes depicts Mary Poppins spending an enchanted night off on the rooftops of London, dancing with a squadron of Chimney Sweeps, up above the smoggy city in “Step in Time.”
Dirty Dancing (PG-13), live action
Another classic, but from the 1980s and appropriate for teens, Dirty Dancing follows the story of a young woman at a summer resort with her family, who befriends and falls for the dance instructor. He helps her learn ballroom dancing styles (both standard and latin) to fundraise for a friend in need. The movie culminates in a leap-and-lift maneuver that is finally achieved in the performance.
Anastasia (G), animated
In the vein of the animated fairytales of the 1990s and early 2000s, Anastasia is a cartoon musical which elaborates on the murmurs that the Russian Princess Anastasia was the only member of her family to survive the Bolshevik uprising. Suffering amnesia, and going by the name Anya, two con men take advantage of her likeness in order to claim a reward in Paris. The story has a fair amount of “My Fair Lady” parallels, including many scenes where Anya is learning how to dance, to lovely and memorable songs.