Looking for inspiration to improve your own dance skills? Turn a casual Netflix binge into something a bit more productive by turning to some of the best dance films in cinematic history. Here’s a rundown of the 20 best dance movies, documentaries, and tv shows.


Written by Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino, Bunheads follows a Las Vegas showgirl as she moves to her new husband’s quiet hometown. Once there, she takes a new job at her mother-in-law’s dance studio. You can stream it on Hulu.

Watch a compilation of the dance scenes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnWlmBs-TqY

Strictly Ballroom

Baz Luhrman’s romantic comedy takes you to the glittery world of ballroom dancing. Whether you’re a ballet dancer or you prefer the foxtrot, it’s a fun way to engage your dance-minded brain, even when you don’t have your pointe shoes on.

Watch the final dance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk-nWE9yeG8

Billy Elliot

A classic dance film, Billy Elliot shares the heartwarming story of a young boy growing up in England. Billy Elliot wants to be a ballet dancer, against his father’s wishes.

Watch a dance clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVvdfUZnUH4

First Position

First Position is one of the most well-known ballet documentaries out there—the 2011 film follows several young dancers as they prepare to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix.
View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmiBXdBNIXE

Ballet 422

Do you have dreams of becoming a choreographer in the future? Ballet 422 will help you understand the day-to-day life of a young choreographer, Justin Peck, as he works his way up in the New York City Ballet.

Watch a clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-OEX1L6PWQ


When watching Jig, you’ll follow a group of young Irish dancers as they compete in the Irish Dancing World Championships. Think curly wigs and big dreams of taking home the shiny trophy in the end.

Watch the full documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G7nAjEVIwg

The Company

The Company focuses on the company of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and a relationship involving one of the dancers, played by Neve Campbell. Most of the film, however, is about the dynamics of the company, played by actual members of the Joffrey Ballet.

View the opening sequence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTUECKNfZxw

Red Shoes

A true classic—Red Shoes came out in 1948—the film centers around a young dancer, Victoria Page, as she takes on the lead in a new ballet based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, “The Red Shoes.”

Watch a ballet sequence from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktv3-1JTspc

Dance Academy

An Australian teen drama based on the dynamics of a dance high school? Sounds like the perfect way to learn more about dance and unwind after a grueling class. You can stream it on Netflix.

Watch a dance clip from the TV show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL6c5Z_WIXc

Center Stage

If you like the high school drama of Dance Academy, the 2000 film Center Stage is another good pick for you—the movie follows a group of young dancers at a fictitious ballet academy in New York City.

Watch a clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3CwLBWJgaA


Another teen arts academy drama, Fame focuses on a group of teens from a variety of arts backgrounds at a performing arts high school in New York City. You can watch the classic film from 1980, and afterwards, compare the remake from 2009.

Watch the opening sequence her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqMmquNLnHg

Breaking Pointe

Breaking Pointe is a reality TV series about Salt Lake City’s Ballet West and the cost of perfection in the dance world.

Watch a clip from the series here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veaF-ap_KNs

White Nights

White Nights is a 1985 film that looks at dance in the context of global politics during the Cold War. This classic dance film features ballet, tap, and more.

Watch a clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImzkWZkaIIM&t=84s

A Ballerina’s Tale

A Ballerina’s Tale features Misty Copeland, the first African-American ballerina to become a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre. Copeland narrates the film, which blends archival and recent footage.

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y2h6fz2XzQ

Black Swan

If you like psychological thrillers and ballet, Black Swan is the right film for you. Darren Aronofsky’s film stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis and focuses on the horrors of the race for perfections.

Watch a clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4vLrQZpu7c


Need a night away from ballet? The fun of both the original and musical versions of Hairspray are all about the power of dance. You can watch the original John Waters film, or find the movie musical and sing along.

Watch a clip from the musical here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0Dxsmk-EZ8

Mad Hot Ballroom

This 2005 documentary follows a group of 11-year-olds in New York City as they participate in a ballroom dance program. The film culminates in a city-wide ballroom competition between the students.

Watch a clip from the documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K6U3FyJBv4


Though Chicago doesn’t focus on ballet, it’s a dance-driven movie musical that took home the Oscar for Best Picture in 2003. Chicago takes you to a world of crime, celebrity, and cabaret.

Watch a clip from the opening sequence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVyg4MchBYM

An American in Paris

An American in Paris, a 1951 movie musical based on George Gershwin’s score, centers around a love triangle in post-World War II Paris. The final and famed ballet sequence lasts 17 minutes and cost around a half a million dollars to shoot.

Watch one of the dancing sequences here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z5LcIkWRmg


Also known as Leap! in the United States, this film is perfect if you’re in the mood for an animated film. Leap! follows a young orphan in the 1800s who dreams of becoming a ballerina.

Watch a clip from the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aehrCm_LWc8


Know of any other good movies or shows that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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