Flashdance (1983)
Flashdance (1983)

Best Dance Movies of the 80’s – Top#10

There is ballet, tap, jazz, break, ballroom and good music galore!

Listed in chronological order, here are the best 80’s Hollywood movies featuring dance as a theme:

Fame (1980)

Fame Movie 1980
Fame (1980)
Fame Movie 1980
Fame (1980)

Remember Leroy, Coco and Lisa? Such big dreams, and so much dedication.

Directed by Alan Parker, starring Gene Anthony Ray, Eddie Barth, Irene Cara, Laura Dean and Lee Curreri. It is now a classic in the genre, and in 1982 it served as inspiration for the hit series by same title.

Set in New York, it tells the stories of the lives and hardships of students attending the High School of Performing Arts. The movie received two Academy Awards in the categories Best Original Song (“Fame”) and Best Original Score.

Flashdance (1983)

Flashdance Movie 1983
Flashdance (1983)
Flashdance Movie 1983 Poster
Flashdance Poster (1983)

Directed by Adrian Lynne, of course, with the highly stylized aesthetics so characteristic of this great filmmaker with the music video-like scenes featuring excellent dance numbers and songs. It stars Jennifer Beals in the role as Alex, a young woman who aspires to become a ballerina, while holding a day job as a welder in a steel mill, and moonlights dancing in a cabaret by night. Who did not love this movie? Well, it turns out it was not received well by film critics and academics alike, but it won numerous prestigious awards (Academy Award for Best Original Song – “Maniac”, BAFTA Award for Best Editing, and, well, the list goes on), and in time this movie has proven to be a trademark 80’s production with its excellent choreographies and the unforgettable soundtrack.

Breakin’ (1984)

Breakin Movie 1984
Breakin’ (1984)
Breakin 1984
Breakin’ (1984)

Directed by Joel Silberg, this movie was inspired on a documentary about break dance in the early 80’s. Starring Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones and Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers, it tells the story of Kelly “Special K” Bennett, a young jazz dancer who is going through a difficult time, when she meets two breakdancers, Ozone and Turbo, at a dance battle at Venice Beach. Together they will become a sensation. The rap icon Ice T, makes an appearance in the feature in the role as Rap Talker. Besides the electrifying dance scenes, ‘Breakin’ has an incredible soundtrack, among its song is the now classic ‘Ain’t Nobody‘ by Rufus and Chaka Khan.


Footloose (1984)

Footloose Movie 1984
Footloose (1984)
Footloose Movie 1984
Footloose Movie Poster (1984)

The movie that proved to the world, beyond the two step universe, that yes, you can dance with cowboy boots on. Directed by Herbert Ross, this musical drama stars Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. It tells the story of Ren, a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small town, where he attempts to overturn the ban on dancing implemented by a local minister. The movie was received with mixed reviews, but became a box office hit. Another 80’s forget-me-not, with a sweet story, a lot of great dancing, Bacon is impressive, and of course, the soundtrack. Who doesn’t know the song by Kenny Loggins ‘Footloose’?

A Chorus Line (1985)

A Chorus Line Movie 1985
A Chorus Line (1985)
A Chorus Line Movie 1985
A Chorus Line (1985)

The movie adaptation of the book of the 1975 stage production, directed Richard Attenborough, and starring Michael Douglas, Terrence Mann and Alyson Reed. ‘A Chorus Line’ chronicles the difficulties in the world of performance centering on a group of dancers auditioning for a part in a new Broadway musical. The songs were composed by Edward Kleban and the multi-award winning Marvin Hamlisch.The movie was not the box office hit the producers had expected, and the reviews were varied. Difficult task that of going up against the Broadway musical hit.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)

Girls Just Want to Have Fun Movie 1985
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Movie 1985
Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt watching TV at home in a scene from the film ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’, 1985. (Photo by New World Pictures/Getty Images)

A romantic comedy directed by Alan Metter, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Lee Montgomery, Morgan Woodward, Jonathan Silverman and Helen Hunt. It tells the story of Janey and Lynne, both passionate about dance, they decide sign up to compete in a dance contest for the show Dance TV. Needless to say that the title is inspired in Cyndi Lauper‘s 1983 version of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun‘, previously recorded and performed by Robert Hazard in 1979. The film was not a major hit, but it is now considered a cult movie from that era.

White Nights (1985)

White Nights (1985)
White Nights (1985)
White Nights Movie 1985
White Nights (1985)

A musical drama film directed by Taylor Hackford, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Jerzy Skolimowski, Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini. It tells the story of Russian ballet dancer Nikolai ‘Kolya’ Rodchenkoin who defected to the West, and is held prisoner in the Soviet Union, when the plane he is on crashes in Siberia. The KGB keeps him under watch and tries to convince him to become a dancer for the Kirov Academy of Ballet again. Determined to escape, he befriends a Black American expatriate and his pregnant Russian wife, who agree to help him escape to the American Embassy. The dancing in this film is the best one can ask for, and the soundtrack is simply notable, counting on songs such as the Academy Award-winning “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie, and “Separate Lives” performed by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin.

Dancers (1987)

Dancers Movie 1987
Dancers (1987)
Dancers Movie 1987
Dancers (1987)

This movie is directed by Herbert Ross and stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, Julie Kent and Alessandra Ferri. It is based on Giselle by Adolphe Adam, Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. It tells the story of a ballet dancer who sets out to produce a movie version of Giselle, all the while his love life resembles the plotline of the ballet piece. The movie did not receive raving reviews, but it does count on the Baryshnikov’s beautiful dancing. Definitely a movie for ballet aficionados, perhaps not for movie buffs given its far from good production quality.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dnacing Movie 1987
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Dancing 1987
Dirty Dancing Movie Poster (1987)

How about some Mambo and a ballroom dancing melange? This romantic drama is directed by Emile Ardolino. It was written by Eleanor Bergstein, who based it on her own childhood. Starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, this movie was a major box office hit. Set in 1963, it tells the story of Frances Houseman, also known as “Baby”, and her vacation at an upscale resort with her family. There she meets the dashing Johnny Castle, a member of the resort entertainment staff. Sparks fly, and “Baby” falls in love and learns how to dance. With its wonderful soundtrack, the album actually held the number one spot for four consecutive months, there are various songs that have become classics such as, “The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes and “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze himself.


Tap (1989)

 Tap Movie 1989
Tap (1989)
Tap Dance Movie 1989
Gregory Hines, in Tap (1989)

‘Tap’ is a drama movie written and directed by Nick Castle and starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. It tells the story of Max Washington who has just been released from prison after serving time for burglary. He returns to his old hangout, a hoofer club. His old girl friend, Amy, who still works at the club as a Tap instructor, is less than thrilled to see him. Her father, Little Mo, is happy to see him, because he has plans for a show involving Max. In addition, Max’s old partners in crime have another job for him. The movie received mixed reviews.

What is your favorite dance movie? What other 80’s dance movies do you like? Let us know in the comments below!

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