25 Memorable Movie Dance Scenes
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18. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Athlete, brain, criminal, princess, basket case—here, they’re all united through the majesty of dance. Take that, Principal Vernon!
17. The Blues Brothers (1980)
We’re not supposed to question how a crowd of people on the street can a) hear Ray Charles singing “Shake a Tail Feather” from inside his music store and b) all happen to know some pretty intricate choreography to the tune. Instead, we just enjoy it—especially those adorable little kids around the two-minute mark who can do the Bony Maronie with the best of ’em.
16. West Side Story (1961)
There are plenty of impressive dances to choose from in West Side Story, including some grade-A ballet-fighting, but nothing matches the spectacle of the school-dance scene where, after the Jets and the Sharks try to one-up each other in the mambo, star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria catch a glimpse of each other from across the gym.
15. Grease (1978)
Okay, so the implication from Grease‘s most famous number—that in order to get boys to like you, all you need to do is completely change your personality and dress sluttier—is a little problematic. But there’s something about the way Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) get down in that carnival Shake Shack in their matching black outfits that makes us table our concerns.
14. Scent of a Woman (1992)
In Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino proved he could deliver a seriously debonair tango like no other. If he can lead a dancing novice like Donna (Gabrielle Anwar) so well, imagine what he could do with a professional partner. Hoo-ah!
13. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Time Warp is one of those dances with the added convenience of instructional lyrics. It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right—easy enough that even total squares like Brad and Janet can get the hang of it.
12. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Disco may have (mercifully) died decades ago, but this John Travolta performance to the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” lives on, oft parodied but never paralleled.
11. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
We’d be fools if we didn’t include this iconic scene from a John Hughes classic. While his friends freak out about their futures, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) hops atop a parade float and leads the city of Chicago in a rousing rendition of “Twist and Shout.” Businessmen shake it in their offices, girls lift up their skirts and a bunch of people appear out of nowhere to do the “Thriller” dance. Best Von Steuben Day ever!
10. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Who among us hasn’t had a big stupid grin on their face and Hall & Oates playing in their head after finally bedding the guy or gal they’ve been pining over? Things escalate to hilarious effect for Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in (500) Days of Summer, however: strangers high-five him, Harrison Ford winks at him as his reflection, cartoon birds show up and soon enough, a crowd of people is dancing behind him to celebrate the fact that he’s just gotten laid.
9. An American in Paris (1951)
This Gene Kelly classic not only celebrates dance—it builds its climax around a 16-minute ballet sequence that reportedly cost over $500,000 to shoot. Kelly was awarded an honorary Oscar for “his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film” after this movie was released, and it’s easy to see why. Try not to get goosebumps as he and Leslie Caron sway in silhouette above.