Dance flicks like Save the Last Dance and Step Up may be big on star power (hello, young Channing Tatum), but they’re thin on what really matters: legitimate, inspiring dancing. These seven films are the real deal.
Billy Elliot Universal Studios; 111 minutes Before it was a smash-hit Broadway musical, the story of a young British boy who stumbles upon ballet and sticks with it—against his family’s wishes—danced its way into our movie-loving hearts.
Singin’ in the Rain Warner Home Video; 103 minutes Eponymous rain-dance scene aside, this film shows some amazing tap-dancing chops—and not just from Gene Kelly. Sidekick Donald O’Connor is the explosive yin to Kelly’s smooth yang.
Center Stage Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 115 minutes C’mon, you knew this one was coming. It’s easy to forgive the predictable plot and cheesy lines when Cooper Nielson—er, Ethan Stiefel—is manège-ing away in front of your very eyes.
The Red Shoes Image Entertainment; 134 minutes Robert Helpmann’s choreography for the movie’s title ballet is appropriately macabre and thrilling, but the real reason to watch is Ballets Russes star Léonide Massine as the ballet master.
The Company Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 112 minutes This film, which was inspired by the Joffrey Ballet and features many of its then-dancers (as well as Neve Campbell), has no real, linear plot—but plenty of ballet. Look for Lar Lubovitch’s dreamy contemporary pas de deux.
Strictly Ballroom Miramax Lionsgate; 94 minutes It’s more of a cult classic than director Baz Luhrmann’s other hits (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!), but Strictly Ballroom has the sweetest story: A ballroom prodigy with unusual choreographic ideas falls in love with his partner, a clumsy novice.
White Nights Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 136 minutes With the hoofing skills of Gregory Hines and the ballet pyrotechnics of Baryshnikov (he does 11 consecutive pirouettes in one scene), who even notices the Cold War–era plot?