The Best Of … Dance Films

AC Staff

Far from a comprehensive list of dance-related documentaries and feature films, this is a list of titles we think are worth watching. We’d love to know which dance-focused films you think are worthy of mention. Send feedback to

Only When I Dance

In this 2009 documentary film by Beadie Finzi, ballet represents hope, as two Brazilian girls practice a discipline they believe will rescue them from the darkness of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.




Wim Wenders’ 2011 documentary Pina is an important cinematic encomium to inimitable choreographer Pina Bausch, whom the world of contemporary dance lost two years earlier. In Pina, Wenders’ captures the reverence Bausch’s dancers have for her work.



Shall We Dance

While Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers deliver the ballet and tap steps that drove the plot of this 1937 feature film, George Gershwin’s music (which is accompanied by Ira’s lyrics) is the medium through which divergent dance styles are celebrated.



Strictly Ballroom

Since the 1992 release of Baz Luhrmann’s popular comedy, ballroom dancing has enjoyed renewed popularity. With this effort, Luhrmann offered a nod to the 1920s and a welcoming salute to the reality TV competitions of more recent years.



The Red Shoes

This 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – whose namesake and inspiration were the Hans Christian Andersen tale – is deservedly recognized as influential not only for the filmmakers’ inclusion of accomplished dancers in the movie’s cast, but for the film’s stylish aesthetic.



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