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The 35 Best Dance Movies Of All Time Ranked

In this age of fancy CGI and increasingly bigger on-screen explosions, it can be hard to remember that one of the most entertaining things a movie can deliver is a rousing song-and-dance number. The art of the musical has receded into the background in Hollywood, but it hasn't entirely forgotten by fans who yearn for the high you can get from seeing talented dancers doing their thing to a catchy beat onscreen.

Over the years the basic aspects of a "musical" have been recycled and repurposed by filmmakers not just in Hollywood, but around the world. The art form has been used to tell happy stories, sad stories, and even dramatic thrillers on occasion. And some musicals focus specifically on dancing and how it relates to the human experience. 

Dance movies have achieved great popularity at the box office and in pop culture, giving us some of the most iconic moments in the history of cinema celebrating life and romance. Let's take a look at some of the most popular dance movies from around the world, ranked by IMDb score. Any one of these is sure to get your feet tapping and your heart thumping in a way that no other subgenre can.     

35. Stomp the Yard

The rise of "dance battle" culture was a huge boon for dance movies that were looking to do something a little different from "the hero and heroine fall in love while dancing." Dance battle films could fill the screen with entire dancing groups engaging in dazzling choreography, and "Stomp the Yard" takes full advantage of that idea. 

The film opens with the Goon Squad, a dance crew in Los Angeles composed of down-on-their-luck youngsters. They dream of earning a better life by taking their crew to the heights of popularity in local dancing competitions. But being a member of the Goon Squad becomes a curse for DJ Williams (Columbus Short) when his brother is ambushed and killed by a rival crew, and DJ is sent to a distant university to start a new life.

While at the university, DJ finds love and a reason to start dancing again with the local step dance crew looking to make their mark on history. "Stomp the Yard" was praised for its dazzling dance choreography and musical stylings, and a plot that interweaves dance battle culture with deeper issues facing the Black community in higher education.    

34. High School Musical

"Made for television" movies rarely make much of a lasting impact, which makes the breakout success of the 2006 Disney Channel movie "High School Musical" all the more remarkable. Little known actors, a tiny budget, and a formulaic plot could not prevent the film from setting a new standard for teen movies and youth-focused musicals. 

The film follows high school star Troy Bolton's (Zac Efron) near-perfect life as a star athlete at school who's on track for a prestigious basketball scholarship. But Troy nurses a secret desire to participate in the performing arts, which he's afraid admit because of the expectations placed on his shoulders. Troy finds a reason to go against the school's status quo after meeting Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), a straight-A student who also wants to express herself through song and dance. 

Though it could have been dismissed by critics as just another Disney TV movie, "High School Musical" struck a chord with a far larger audience than the studio anticipated (per Variety). The movie made instant stars out of Efron and Hudgens, and the musical interludes from "High School Musical" became pop culture staples for an entire generation of fans. The popularity of the film spawned a massive franchise complete with multiple sequels, spinoffs, and stage adaptations.

33. The Wiz

The 1970s saw the "Blaxploitation" genre gain significant cultural currency in Hollywood, with African American characters taking traditionally white roles at the center of a movie's narrative. The genre began dying out by the end of the decade, with one of the last significant entries on the list being an all-Black reimagining of 1939's "The Wizard of Oz," simply titled "The Wiz." 

The movie takes its broad cues from the L. Frank Baum's original novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Schoolteacher Dorothy Gale (Diana Ross) is having Thanksgiving dinner with her extended family when a magical whirlwind displaces her. She is taken to the land of Oz, reimagined as a dystopian New York City, where she meets many eccentric characters and sets off on a quest to find her way back home with the help of the enigmatic sorcerer known as The Wiz.

While "The Wiz" did not succeed at the box office and met with mixed reviews (per The Hollywood Reporter), it has seen a resurgence in recent times as a cult classic. The movie is also noted for marking the acting debut of Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, a few years before he established himself as the King of Pop, not to mention a memorable appearance by legendary comedian Richard Pryor as The Wiz.   

32. Magic Mike XXL

After the breakout critical and commercial success of "Magic Mike," it seemed a no-brainer to have another go with the budding franchise for some more hunky gyrating interspersed with sobering commentary on the male stripper business. Once again Channing Tatum returned in the lead role as Michael "Magic Mike" Lane, the stripper with ambitions greater than taking his clothes off in front of rapturous crowds.

Three years have passed since the events of the original "Magic Mike," and Mike has tried to put his stripping days behind him by starting his own furniture business. He's contacted by his old stripper teammates, who inform him they're also quitting the business, and intend to go out on a high note by participating in a stripping convention at Myrtle Beach. Unhappy with his personal life, Mike joins them on a road trip filled with misadventures as they try to make it to the convention in time to perform one last grand stripping routine.

"Magic Mike XXL" managed to get healthy returns at the box office thanks to the popularity of its predecessor (per Box Office Mojo), not to mention the hunky lineup of Tatum, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, and Joe Manganiello. While not as critically acclaimed as the original "Magic Mike," the sequel carries enough of the flair and saucy energy of the first one not to get bogged down by one too many plotlines.

31. Breakin'

Modern dance battle movies owe a lot to the culture of breakdancing that sprung up in the '70s and '80s. Hollywood already saw the potential in the artform back then, and gave us 1984's "Breakin'" to cash in on its potential. 

The movie follows Kelly "Special K" Bennett (Lucinda Dickey), a promising young dancer training at a swanky institution in California. One day, Kelly happens to meet a couple of talented street dancers, Ozone (Adolfo "Shabba Doo" Quiñones) and Turbo (Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers). The three strike up a friendship and begin performing together. But while they find respect battling other dancers on the streets, it's a bigger battle to get the world of professional dancing to recognize their style as a legitimate art form. 

"Breakin'" provides the blueprint for a lot of the themes and visuals you get to see in group dance movies today. Amusingly, the movie also features one of the earliest uses of the sort of "mid-credits" scene that become a hallmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During the film's credits, Special K, Ozone, and Turbo are told about a new dance style making waves called "the electric boogaloo," thus setting up the sequel to "Breakin.'"

30. Magic Mike

After the breakout success of his starring role in "Step Up," Channing Tatum decided to take a different route with his next major dancing role. The actor took inspiration from his early days as a stripper to produce and star in "Magic Mike," a gritty movie about the male exotic dancing scene and the toll it takes on its performers.

Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a 19-year-old college dropout struggling to make ends meet. He is encouraged by Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) to work as a stripper at the Xquisite Strip Club alongside Mike and a host of men from different backgrounds. While Mike attempts to keep an eye on Adam for the sake of his sister Brooke (Cody Horn), Adam falls deeper down the rabbit hole, developing a substance abuse problem and getting into trouble with criminals and clients.

Ably directed by Steven Soderbergh, "Magic Mike" doesn't show stripping in a flashy or glamorous light, focusing instead on the costs accrued by the lifestyle where there is no such thing as job security and the performers are exploited by everyone they meet. The film was well-received by critics, with Roger Ebert describing "Magic Mike" as "a crafty mixture of comedy, romance, melodrama and some remarkably well-staged strip routines involving hunky, good-looking guys."

29. Shall We Dance?

These days, it may seem like the box office is dominated by CGI-heavy blockbusters, but there was a time when all you needed to make a hit film was a popular pair of lead actors in a compelling love story. Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Jennifer Lopez have just such an appeal, and their movie "Shall We Dance?" is a great throwback to days of classic romantic dramas.

Gere stars as John Clark, a successful lawyer married to Beverly (Sarandon) with a happy home life. But John feels something is missing in his life. An impulsive decision leads him to sign up for ballroom classes, where he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Paulina (Lopez). As John's interest in competitive ballroom dancing increases, Beverly grows suspicious of all the time he spends away from home, and hires a private investigator to look into the matter.

There aren't a lot of dramatic twists and turns to the plot, but the movie makes up for it with a heartwarming sincerity and a relatable honesty from these actors playing characters at various crossroads in their lives. The chemistry between Gere and both of his leading ladies is believably fresh, despite the story never actually making a love triangle out of John, Beverly, and Paulina.      

28. Bring It On

You would think the world of competitive cheerleading would naturally lend itself to the dance movie format ... and you would be right. The most prominent "dancing cheerleader" movies can be found in the "Bring It On" franchise, which kicked off with the 2000 film of the same name. High school cheerleader Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) has big plans when she is elected the new captain of her cheerleading squad. 

But Torrance's plans to win the national cheerleading competition seem to be a bust when a teammate gets injured. She finds a fresh teammate in new student and skilled gymnast Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku). When it's revealed that Torrance's former team captain had led them to victory by stealing other cheerleading routines, it becomes a mater of personal pride for Torrance to win the upcoming competition in an honest manner.

"Bring It On" never loses sight of the fluffy teen movie it wants to be, and therein lies its appeal. The film accomplishes its modest goals of being an entertaining look at sisterhood and team spirit in the cheerleading community. Buoyed by charismatic performances from its lead cast, "Bring It On" was a hit at the box-office and spawned a number of sequels, giving Hollywood a rare female-led franchise, and even making noted film critic Roger Ebert eat his own words (per IndieWire).  

27. Step Up 3D

After the success of the original "Step Up" and its sequel, the stage was set for the unlikely franchise to kick into high gear by going for bigger and better set pieces. Once again the focus is on dance crews looking for respect via dance contest, with the supporting character of Moose (Adam G. Sevani) from the previous movie taking center stage. 

Now a college student, Moose moves to New York to study electrical engineering at the behest of his father. But an unexpected and wholly preposterous dance battle on campus involving bubbles and balloons gets Moose's moves noticed by Luke (Rick Malambri), the leader of a local dance crew looking for a new member. Naturally, Moose gets involved in the local underground dance battle scene while also trying to honor his father's wishes regarding his career path.

As the title of the movie suggests, "Step Up 3D" features plenty of sight gags that work best when viewed in 3D. The movie also has an immensely likeable lead in fan-favorite Moose. The by-the-numbers plot is saved by some dazzling dance battles and ambitious choreography that see Moose and his crew taking on some of the best dancers in the world in epic stage battles.  

26. Step Up 2: The Streets

Following the unexpected success of the original "Step Up," it was clear there was a lot of money to be made with films about hot young dancers falling in love and setting the stage on fire with their moves. That brings us to "Step Up 2: The Streets," a sequel about a new cast of characters. Briana Evigan stars as Andie, part of a street dance crew that performs subversive art pieces, flaunting the risk of arrest. 

A series of events lead Andie to attend the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts, where she finds her street dance skills are not appreciated by the more orthodox teachers and students. Still, Andie slowly starts gathering a coterie of dancers with unusual abilities who have been ostracized at school just like her. Together, the newbie dance team sets out to test their mettle at an important contest against Andie's old street dance crew. 

"Step Up 2: The Streets" set the pace for the sequels that followed, featuring a large number of dancers battling with intricate choreography and utilizing exotic props and settings. The film is also notable for being the directorial debut of Jon M. Chu of "Crazy Rich Asians" fame.

25. Flashdance

The 1980s were an exciting time for music and dance in Hollywood. The success of "Saturday Night Fever" in 1977 had ushered in a new era of stylish yet gritty films based on the thriving disco culture of the time, and that trend continued to evolve with the pop music of the decade that followed. "Flashdance" was one movie riding that wave as it shed a light on the grimy side of the dance business in small towns. 

18-year-old Alexandra "Alex" Owens (Jennifer Beals) lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she ekes out a meager living by working at a steel mill and performing cabaret at a nightclub. Alex dreams of becoming a professional dancer, but she's had no formal training. Beset by troubled friends, leering co-workers, and a rapidly diminishing strength to follow her passion, Alex's last chance at achieving her dreams is a showcase to decide whether or not she would be accepted into the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory.

Although the movie was met with negative reviews when it first released, "Flashdance" became an unexpected hit at the box-office and caught the imagination of the public in a lively manner. The "MTV music video" style of the dance sequences had a significant effect on blockbuster filmmaking, with many major movies that came afterward using similar editing techniques to give a slick look to their action sequences (via Time).  

24. ABCD (Any Body Can Dance)

Despite heavily featuring elaborate song-and-dance numbers in most of its offerings, the Indian film industry known as Bollywood has not made too many movies focusing on the private lives of dancers. "Any Body Can Dance," often shortened to "ABCD," sought to change that by taking inspiration from Hollywood features like "Step Up" and "Stomp the Yard."

"ABCD" focuses on down-on-his-luck choreographer Vishnu (Prabhu Deva), who gets ousted from his place at an eminent dance academy by his former partner. Left without a direction in life, Vishnu comes across a motley group of street performers struggling to make a living as stage dancers at local events. Vishnu decides to personally train the group so they can compete in an important dance competition against students from his former dance academy.  

Despite its simple storyline, "ABCD" works thanks to the energy of its main cast of dancers, most of whom were professional dancers rather than actors handpicked from dance contests by the film's choreographer-turned-director Remo D'Souza. The dazzling dance styles on display coupled with the catchy soundtrack drew praise from critics, and helped turn ABCD into a franchise along the lines of the "Step Up" series (via Sify).   

23. Mamma Mia!

Every few years, critics and trade analysts love to declare that the age of the Hollywood musical is over. But all it takes is a breakout hit like 2008's "Mamma Mia!" to prove once again that audiences still love a good musical if it's lively and engaging enough.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is an only daughter living with her single mother Donna (Meryl Streep) on a beautiful Greek island, making preparations for her wedding. Unknown to Donna, Sophie has invited three men from her mother's past for the purpose of clearing up the mystery of who among them might be her father. That's enough of a plot to support a string of energetic ABBA covers throughout the film's runtime, resulting in a rollicking good time.

After a lifetime of dark and dramatic roles that made her an awards mainstay, Streep is a revelation as the free-spirited Donna, struggling with her feelings for the three men from her past while trying to be there for Sophie on her big day. Most of the main cast give able renditions of ABBA classics like "Dancing Queen" and the title song. Audiences turned out in droves to see the movie (per Box Office Mojo), laying the groundwork for a sequel a decade later. Hopefully, we may even get a third one

22. Happy Feet

"Animated dance movies" is a vanishingly small genre of films, but "Happy Feet" manages to work some fancy footwork into an adventure starring talking penguins. The unlikely combination works way better than it should thanks to a talented lead cast of voice actors and a heartfelt story at its center that borrows a few emotional beats from "Billy Elliot."

Mumble (Elijah Wood) is an emperor penguin, part of a clan that places great emphasis on singing. Unfortunately, a childhood accident left Mumble unable to sing. What he does have is an innate talent for dancing that baffles his fellow penguins. As mating season arrives, Mumble strives to grab the attention of a female penguin named Gloria with the help of his snappy moves, in the process teaching his community a thing or two about opening yourself up to the joy of dancing.

The animators behind "Happy Feet" took great pains to make a tap-dancing penguin an adorable sight instead of simply looking bizarre. The movie is also helped along by the exuberant voice acting of Robin Williams as the hopeless romantic Ramon. With a strong box-office showing and love from critics, "Happy Feet" hit the sweet spot for audiences well enough to spawn a sequel, which unfortunately failed to replicate the success of the original (via The Hollywood Reporter).   

21. Disco Dancer

While 1977's "Saturday Night Fever" brought a fresh rebellious energy to Hollywood through disco, Bollywood saw a similar musical invasion with 1982's "Disco Dancer." In a film era dominated by crime and action films, "Disco Dancer" offered younger audiences a new mode of rebellion in the form of dance music.

Anil (Mithun Chakraborty) is a street dancer and performer who dreams of ensuring a comfortable life for his ailing mother. While performing on the road, Anil is scouted by talent manager David Brown (Om Puri), who intends to position Anil as the new pop sensation. Rebranding Anil as "Jimmy," David aids him in reaching new crowds with his music and dancing. But current disco champion Sam (Karan Razdan) is secretly plotting to end Jimmy's burgeoning career permanently.

"Disco Dancer" was one of the first Bollywood movies to enjoy widespread popularity outside of India (per Forbes). The film's iconic soundtrack and Mithun Chakraborty's flashy dance moves broke all kinds of language barriers. "Disco Dancer" became a cult hit film in countries like Russia and China, and inspired many homages from international fans over the years, including the cover of "Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja" sung by M.I.A.

20. Step Up

Arguably the most popular dance movie franchise of all time, the "Step Up" series is today associated with huge dance crews putting together giant choreography using strobe lights, pulleys, cables, and all manner of other exotic props. But the original "Step Up" was a much more small-scale and intimate affair, with a single hero and heroine at the center of the narrative.

Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a street ruffian who spends his time committing petty crimes with his friends. One such crime spree gets Tyler arrested, and in lieu of facing jail time he agrees to work as a janitor at an art school. There he meets Nora (Jenna Dewan), an ambitious ballet dancer looking to mix up her dance routine for an important audition. As they strike up a relationship, Tyler volunteers to help Nora with her showcase using his slick street dance moves. 

"Step Up" works as an old-school love story between a man and a woman from the opposite sides of the track. When sparks fly between Tyler and Nora, it reminds audiences of the fiery chemistry Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey shared in "Dirty Dancing." The movie also established Tatum as a rare dancing star in modern Hollywood, and later he would once again use his smooth moves to great acclaim in the "Magic Mike" franchise.  

19. Footloose

Today, Kevin Bacon is known as an intense character actor with a special proclivity for playing hardened or downright evil men. But he started his career in a much different space, as the lead in a story about youthful rebellion in a small town set against the immortal musical stylings of Kenny Loggins in 1984's "Footloose." Bacon stars as Ren McCormack, a troubled youth who moves with his mother to the town of Bomont to live with their extended family. 

The town's pastor, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), has strict views on acceptable teen behavior, and has outlawed drugs, drinking, and dancing. This does not go down well with Ren, who finds an escape from his personal troubles by dancing in secret. Will Ren's rebellious attitude bring about a change in the town's views and help him woo the preacher's daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer), in time for a big show-stopping musical number at the climax of the film? 

"Footloose" proved an unexpected box office smash, helped in no small part by the movie's soundtrack. Loggins' iconic and Oscar-nominated title track became an anthem for proms and weddings for an entire generation. The song continues to resonate with audiences to this day, prompting Bacon to put on his dancing shoes once again in 2014 to join Jimmy Fallon for a reprise of "Footloose" on "The Tonight Show."

18. Taal

The dawn of the new millennium was a turbulent time for the Indian film industry, which saw the star power of established A-listers waning while a crop of newcomers were increasingly grabbing attention. One such newcomer was former Miss World winner Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who played to her strengths as an actress and a dancer in the 1999 blockbuster "Taal." 

The movie sees Anil Kapoor essaying the role of Vikrant Kapoor, an established music producer who sees a glimmer of promise in Mansi (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), an aspiring singer and dancer. While helping Mansi climb the ladder of success, Vikrant starts falling love with her. But Mansi is still in love with her old flame Manav (Akshaye Khanna), despite breaking off her engagement with him over a familial misunderstanding.  

"Taal" managed to woo both critics and general audiences thanks to the performances of the lead actors and the immensely popular soundtrack for the film, composed by future Oscar winner A.R. Rahman. "Taal" holds the distinction of becoming the first Indian movie to break into the top 20 at the U.S. box office (per Asia Times), and was also included in noted film critic Roger Ebert's 2005 list of Overlooked Films.

17. Saturday Night Fever

Before he did a complete 180 with his career thanks to "Pulp Fiction," John Travolta was embedded in the cultural consciousness as a dancing icon, thanks mainly to two films, "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever." It was with the latter film that Travolta proved how adept he was not just at hypnotically swing his hips, but also at shouldering the leading role in a gritty, brooding drama. 

Travolta stars as Tony Manero, a young Italian American struggling to find meaning in his life, stuck in a dead-end job and living in a crowded house with his family. The only escape for Tony is the local discotheque, where his smooth moves elicit the admiration and respect from his peers that he desperately craves. But real life starts to overwhelm Tony's only happy place when he partners up with Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) for a dance contest while getting involved in a feud with a rival gang.

A movie like "Saturday Night Fever" would be a hard sell today — not just because of Travolta's irreplaceable leading man charm, but also because of the nasty activities his lead character participates in throughout the film. Still, the movie is a telling snapshot of its era, and inspired a host of dance-based films that came after it to explore a more gritty aspect of life, rather than sticking purely to sweet love stories and feel-good sagas. 

16. Dirty Dancing

Movie producers pin their hopes on making critically and commercially successful films, all the while dreaming of making that one movie that will rise from the status of "hit" to "generation-defining success." "Dirty Dancing" was one such movie that blew past all expectations to become one of the most successful dance-based films of all time, and a benchmark for romantic films in general.

Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is a rich young woman who has spent her whole life being sheltered by her parents. While on a vacation with her parents at a fancy Catskills resort, Baby is intrigued by the lives of the staff, particularly secret parties where the staff engage in raunchy dancing. Baby is attracted to Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the extremely hunky dance instructor who needs a partner for an important stage performance. Baby happily volunteers her services, and the two practice their "forbidden" routine as Baby feels something primal awakening inside her. 

As much a coming-of-age movie as a dance-romance, "Dirty Dancing" features many iconic scenes and quotes that even non-musical fans would have heard of. The film was a smash hit at the box office (per Box Office Mojo) and made stars out of its lead actors. Hopefully the upcoming sequel to "Dirty Dancing" will be able to honor the legacy of its predecessor while giving a new generation of audiences a love story for the ages.

15. Grease

Few Hollywood musicals are remembered as fondly as the 1978 classic "Grease." Based on the 1971 stage production of the same name created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, "Grease" proved to have the perfect combination of star power and nostalgia to land an enduring impact on pop culture while setting the gold standard for teen musicals. 

Local vagabond Danny Zuko (John Travolta) only cares about cruising for babes and impressing his friends with tales of his sexual prowess. But unknown to his friends, Danny had started a relationship with the straight-laced square Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) during the summer and had developed genuine feelings for her. With their friends and enemies getting in the way of the budding romance, misunderstandings abound between Sandy and Danny that the duo must overcome to achieve their happily-ever-after.

"Grease" provides an excellent example of how a lively musical setting can take a straightforward plot and turn it into an entertaining two-hour spectacle in the hands of the right performers. Aspects of the movie, from the costumes to the songs to the "greaser" culture the story draws from, have all become pop-culture staples that have been parodied, paid homage, and carried on in various forms over the past four decades.  

14. Chicago

"Chicago" started out as a 1926 stage play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins (via The Comenian). That play became the inspiration for a Broadway musical of the same name conceived in 1975 by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse. Eventually Hollywood came calling, rolling out an all-star film adaptation of "Chicago" in 2002.

The movie tells the story of Roxie (Renee Zellweger), an ambitious housewife who dreams of becoming a vaudeville star, and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a showgirl who gets arrested after killing her spouse and her sister for having an affair. A similar crime of passion lands Roxie in jail, where she tries to make friends with Velma while learning the way of life at the women's prison. Both Roxie and Velma are represented by the dashing but duplicitous attorney Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) as their trials become extended media circuses.

An adaption of "Chicago" was sure to capture audience attention based on its Broadway legacy, and the movie spares no expense in putting the splashy, lurid musical on the silver screen in as extravagant a manner as possible. The elaborate costumes, dancing, music, and over-the-top performances all combine to create a heady viewing experience. The film made healthy profits at the box office and was nominated for multiple academy awards, winning six of them.

13. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Not every dance film has to be about expert dancers setting the stage on fire with their slick moves. Sometimes a dance movie can be about ordinary folks struggling to learn how to dance, and discovering love and happiness in the process. "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" is one such offering from Bollywood that focusses on the relationship between two dance partners. Suri (Shah Rukh Khan) is a shy and awkward office worker who finds himself unexpectedly married to Taani (Anushka Sharma), the beautiful and fiery daughter of his former teacher. 

While Suri falls head-over-heels in love with Taani, she sees the marriage only as an obligation that she must fulfill. Taani moves into Suri's house and goes through the motions of being a dutiful housewife while keeping herself emotionally distant. When Taani asks Suri for money to enter a dance contest, he sees a way to get closer to his wife by creating a new, flamboyant persona named "Raj" to woo her by becoming her dance partner. 

Thanks to heartfelt performances by the lead pair, an imminently hummable soundtrack, and a touching love story with an undercurrent of pathos, "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" proved a hit with audiences and critics alike. Shah Rukh Khan's performance as both Suri and Raj came in for special praise, with Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times noting, "The magnetic Khan is a skilled enough comic actor with his physical transformation — like a Peter Sellers-ish recessive turning into a Jerry Lewis extrovert — that believing Taani wouldn't notice isn't difficult." 

12. In the Heights

The breakout success of the stage musical "Hamilton" signaled the arrival of a major new creative force in the form of its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Naturally, Hollywood was interested in helping Miranda bring about a revolution in screen musicals as well. That brings us to 2021's "In the Heights," which Miranda produced based on his stage musical of the same name. 

The title of the story is a reference to the Manhattan borough of Washington Heights, which hosts a thriving Latinx population that is the focus of the movie. Here a number of prominent characters go about their daily professional grind while dreaming of carving out a better life for themselves. Chief among them is Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who wants to revive his father's business and feels an attraction to his neighbor, Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who wants to become a fashion designer.

With breathtaking musical interludes and an infectious rhythm permeating the entire film, "In the Heights" is a joyous celebration of a community that rarely gets the spotlight in Hollywood. The film received overwhelming praise from critics for its music and performances. "It's a piece of mainstream American entertainment in the best sense," A.O. Scott noted for The New York Times, "an assertion of impatience and faith, a celebration of communal ties and individual gumption, a testimony to the power of art to turn struggles into the stuff of dreams." 

11. Mao's Last Dancer

It is a rare thing for a dance movie to be based on actual historical events. That's what the Australian movie "Mao's Last Dancer" brings to the table. Based on the 2003 memoir of the same name by Li Cunxin, it chronicles his experiences as a ballet student in China during the rule of Mao Zedong, better known as Chairman Mao, the founder of the People's Republic of China. 

The movie opens with an 11-year-old Li Cunxin living in a rural village with little in the way of career prospects. After being examined by government officials seeking talented children to be put under specialized training, Li is admitted to Madame Mao's Dance Academy to study ballet. A grown up Li (Chi Cao) becomes an accomplished dancer, which affords him the opportunity to visit other countries. Enamored with the freedoms afforded to him in America, Li plots to find a way to remain in the West while the Chinese government looks for a way to bring him back. 

"Mao's Last Dancer" was a hit in Australia upon its release, with the Australian Film Institute in 2010 reporting it to be the 12th highest grossing Australian film of all time. The movie was also nominated for a number of awards, winning Best Original Music Score at the 2009 AFI awards.

10. Swing Kids

"Roh Ki-soo" is a stage musical set during the Korean war which told the tale of dancers trying to brave the dangers of the time period to follow their passion. In 2018, the musical was adapted into a feature film titled "Swing Kids," helmed by one of the South Korean movie industry's biggest hitmakers, Kang Hyeong-cheol.

In 1951, the Geoje prison camp sees a strange drama unfold when North Korean soldier Ro Ki-soo (Do Kyung-soo) develops a love for tap dancing through contact with American culture. Ro Ki-soo becomes a part of a group of dancers from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds under the leadership of Jackson (Jared Grimes), an American officer. As the motley crew are put through their paces by Jackson, they discover an unexpected source of hope in their wretched surroundings. 

Expertly juggling aspects of war, history, dance, and a large main cast with unique backstories, "Swing Kids" never gets bogged down by its narrative but keeps things moving at a brisk pace with an infectious energy. It also does not try to whitewash the grim reality of war as it explores the things in life that unite people across varying cultures and ideologies.  

9. Swing Time

If the golden age of Hollywood musicals had a golden couple, it would have to be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Not just excellent dance partners, the duo exuded a rare chemistry in all their scenes — dancing or not — that elevated their movies and brought a different kind of energy to the screen. That energy is exemplified by "Swing Time."

The story kicks off with Astaire's character John "Lucky" Garnett, a dancer with a weakness for gambling. In order to marry the girl of his dreams, Lucky must first earn a large sum of money to prove his intentions. In his quest, he meets a host of entertaining characters, including dance instructor Penny (Ginger Rogers). Lucky and Penny are drawn together based on their mutual love of dance, even as a series of comedic hijinks threaten their relationship.

As with most Astaire-Rogers team-ups, the plot in "Swing Time" takes a backseat to the song-and-dance set pieces that the duo can use to show off their skills and chemistry. It's the kind of dance movie that simply does not get made today, and a sweetly nostalgic gem from a markedly different era of Hollywood musicals.   

8. West Side Story

"Romeo and Juliet" has been an enduring object of fascination for artists across all media, from movies to songs to stage plays. The story of the star-crossed lovers has been reimagined many times. One of the most popular interpretations was with the 1957 Broadway musical "West Side Story," later adapted into a 1961 film of the same name. 

The Sharks and the Jets are two teen gangs fighting for control of the Upper West Side in New York City. Tony (Richard Beymer) is a founding member of the Jets who falls for Maria (Natalie Wood), the younger sister of the leader of the Sharks, Bernardo (George Chakiris). This cannot be allowed, with both gangs baying for each other's blood. Double-crosses, betrayals, and switching of loyalties abound as Tony and Maria try to find a way to be together despite their backgrounds. 

For the longest time, 1961's "West Side Story" was seen as the seminal big, old-fashioned Hollywood musical that set the gold standard for the genre. Unfortunately, the movie was also seen as propagating racist stereotypes of the Latin American community, something that Steven Spielberg's 2021 remake of the musical sought to improve upon (per NBC News). Despite its issues with representation and diversity, 1961's "West Side Story" remains an important chapter in the history of the Hollywood musical artform.   

7. And Then We Danced

Another dance movie that is less focused on the "dance" aspect of the story and more on the dancers themselves, "And Then We Danced" started out as a low-budget Georgian drama film. It gained international attention after its premiere during the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a 15-minute standing ovation (per Evening Standard).

Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is a talented dancer working at the National Georgian Ensemble. A new dancer arrives named Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), who threatens the status quo with his rebellious and free-spirited attitude. At first hostile towards the rival talent, Merab soon forms a bond with Irakli that eventually transforms into a romantic relationship. Unable to express their feelings in a deeply homophobic society, Merab uses the language of dance to show Irakli his heart's desires, even as their secret lives collide tumultuously with their public ones.

The makers behind "And Then We Danced" had to deal with a great deal of opposition while making the film, including protests and death threats (per Agenda). The movie found a lot of support at international film festivals, eventually securing a Best Picture win at the 55th Guldbagge Awards.

6. Billy Elliot

There haven't really been a lot of famous dance movies based on children's experiences. "Billy Elliot," an adaptation of a play created by Lee Hall, bucks the trend by turning the focus squarely on a pubescent youth who finds a better life through ballet dancing.

Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is an 11-year-old kid from a small town in England. One day, Billy is sent to the gym by his father to learn boxing. Instead, Billy joins a ballet class taking place nearby. When news of Billy's interest in ballet reaches his father and older brother they attempt to put a stop to the whole thing, fearing Billy's life will be made miserable by the other boys if they find out he does ballet. But when Billy's father finally sees how genuinely talented his son is as a dancer, he resolves to do all he can to help Billy achieve his dreams.

Made on a small budget with a little-known cast, "Billy Elliot" was an unexpected box-office hit (per Box Office Mojo). It was also showered with praise by critics, with special praise going to the film's young lead actor in a searing and heartfelt performance (per Rotten Tomatoes). The success of the movie led to a stage adaptation that saw a pre-Spider-Man Tom Holland essaying the role of Billy Elliot.

5. Top Hat

Before hip hop took over the "dance movie" scene, the genre was dominated by the balletic stylings of Fred Astaire, arguably the biggest dance icon in the history of Hollywood films. Astaire, coupled with his frequent dance partner Ginger Rogers, gave some of the biggest musical hits in the golden age of Hollywood, with one of their most noted offerings being "Top Hat."

Astaire stars as Jerry Travers, an American dancer who comes to England to perform in a show put on by producer Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). A chance meeting with the lovely Dale Tremont (Rogers) leaves Jerry smitten. He pursues her all over London, but Dale wants nothing to do with him because she has mistaken him for Hardwick. It's up to Jerry to employ his fancy footwork to convince Dale they were born to be partners on the dance floor and in life.

The popular pairing of Astaire and Rogers makes "Top Hat" a winner, and is still considered a high point of their filmography together. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture and Art Direction, and was selected for film preservation in 1990 as part of the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress

4. Cabaret

Bob Fosse is a legendary name in the annals of the American stage musical. The man also tried his hand at films, and one of his most noted works in the medium was 1972's "Cabaret," based loosely on the 1966 Broadway musical of the same name. Fosse as director teamed up with another American musical institution in the form of Liza Minnelli to bring the stage show to the big screen. 

Minnelli star as Sally Bowles, a free-spirited young woman who finds herself attracted to the reserved but intriguing scholar Brian Roberts (Michael York). After a rocky start, the two become lovers, but the relationship is thrown into turmoil with the arrival of dashing playboy Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem). Meanwhile, a subplot finds Fritz Wendel (Fritz Wepper) trying to win the affection of Natalia Landauer (Marisa Berenson) without disclosing his secret background.

"Cabaret" holds the dubious distinction of being the first musical to be assigned an "X" rating in the U.K. (per BBC) based on its level of profanity, graphic visuals, and references to alternate sexual lifestyles. Despite the outrage generated from certain sections of the audience, the film turned a decent profit at the box office and was welcomed by critics, winning eight Academy Awards and establishing Fosse as one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood at the time.

3. La La Land

After the massive cultural impact made by Damien Chazelle's gritty, torturous directorial debut "Whiplash," fans were waiting with bated breath for the auteur's next feature. Many eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that Chazelle would be making a musical, "La La Land," which manages to pay homage to Hollywood's golden age of musicals while still bearing Chazelle's distinct imprint. 

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are both struggling to make it big in the entertainment industry. Mia works as a barista while dreaming of being a successful actress, while Sebastian's passion for jazz makes him a bad fit for most bands because he can't stop himself from improvising in the middle of a song. Buffeted by an indifferent world on all sides, Mia and Sebastian find comfort in each other and the city's errant rhythms that have them dancing late into the night.  

"La La Land" was a huge box office hit at the time of its release, and was hailed by critics as one of the best movies of 2016. The chemistry between Gosling and Stone received special praise, as did the film's intricate dance choreography that made the audience a part of the action in innovative ways. "'La La Land' succeeds both as a fizzy fantasy and a hard-headed fable," wrote A.O. Scott for The New York Times, "a romantic comedy and a showbiz melodrama, a work of sublime artifice and touching authenticity."

2. Black Swan

When a filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky, known for dark and troubling subject material like "Requiem for a Dream" and "The Wrestler," turns his gaze towards the dance industry, you know the result is going to be anything but peppy and upbeat. "Black Swan" was created in Aronofsky's signature directorial style of wringing psychological horror from a culture's seamy underbelly.

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a dancer at the New York City ballet company. After the lead ballerina is forced to retire, the company is in need of a new lead in time to stage a performance of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." The part requires a dancer to play dual roles, and while Nina lands the lead, she struggles to embody both lead characters. The arrival of a new dancer named Lily (Mila Kunis) who threatens Nina's position in the play is accompanied by episodes of memory loss and injuries which throw Nina's mind increasingly into disarray. 

While dance forms a background to the story of "Black Swan," the movie is mainly a character study of Nina and performers like her who give too much of themselves to their art at the risk of self-sabotage. The film was praised by critics and nominated for a slew of awards. Portman won Best Actress at the Oscars as well as the Golden Globes, and her turn as Nina made it to The New Yorker's list of the best performances of the 21st century

1. Singin' in the Rain

The relationship between Hollywood and the musical artform was much more pronounced before the advent of CGI visuals or the "gritty" filmmaking of the '70s and '80s. One of the biggest musical stars in the history of Hollywood was Gene Kelly, and there's no better testament to his onscreen charisma and singing and dancing prowess than the 1952 classic "Singin' in the Rain."

The film takes place in the late 1920s, as Hollywood is experiencing a seismic shift with the advent of sound. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) used to be a popular silent film star, and is now trying to adjust to the world of talkies. Aided by his friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), Don pursues the enigmatic and beauteous Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) and woos her with spirited song-and-dance routines that have since gone down in history. 

"Singin' in the Rain" steadily built up a cult following and is today considered a serious contender for the title of the greatest Hollywood musical of all time. The movie cemented Kelly's status as the foremost musical leading man of his time alongside Fred Astaire. Kelly's iconic rendition of the titular musical number "Singin' in the Rain" continues to be referenced in pop culture, like the time Tom Holland did a mashup of the song with Rihanna's "Umbrella."