11 Iconic Dance Scenes in Film - Raindance

Bust out your dancing shoes and turn on some music! In honour of International Dance Day, here are 11 of the most iconic dance scenes in film.

1. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Dirty Dancing (1987)

The lift says it all. The most iconic image from the film comes from the dance number Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) have been training most of the film for. While it may not be the backdrop they expected, Baby and Johnny’s final performance sparks the desire to dance in all of the assembled guests. The film ends by showing everyone in the hall enjoying themselves and dancing together.

2. “Love My Way,” Call Me By Your Name (2017)

The ‘80s backdrop and music transforms a night out into the first real moment of closeness for the main characters. Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) carefree and goofy dancing, which launched hundreds of memes and filled the hearts of the audience, prompts Elio (Timothée Chalamet) to join in. Even the song acts as a way for them to get close to each other without expressly saying it.

3. “Canned Heat,” Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

In an effort to help his best friend, Pedro, make up for a nervous, rushed speech during the high school presidential debate, Napoleon (Jon Heder) takes centre stage in front of his entire school and starts dancing. Not just any dancing, but full-body, stage-crossing disco-like moves that come out as the music takes over. It’s a dance that has been parodied many times since its release, but it’s one that garners standing ovations every time.

4. Jack Rabbit Slims Twist contest, Pulp Fiction (1994)

Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) take centre stage during a twist competition at the fictional restaurant, Jack Rabbit Slims. The somewhat improvised dance is electric, and combined with the setting, instills nostalgia for the ‘50s and old Hollywood. Thurman recently said that she was terrified of shooting this scene which would end up becoming one of the most iconic moments in the film.

5. “Old Time Rock and Roll,” Risky Business (1983)

A classic tale of a teen having free range of the house while the parents are away. Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) pours himself a glass of whiskey, turns up the music and slides across the hardwood. The outfit alone is a classic and is a go-to look for fancy dress parties as it is minimal yet classic, much like the dance itself.

6. The Full Transformation, Black Swan (2010)

Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a committed ballerina who earns the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”. It’s a film about a woman’s descent into madness as she finally succumbs to the darkness in her mind. The dance is entrancing as she “transforms” into the black swan and it visually shows her development throughout the film.

7. “The Time Warp,” Rocky Horror (1975)

It’s just a jump to the left! From the cult classic film came “The Time Warp,” a dance that became an audience favorite during screenings as it sparks participation. “Normal kids,” Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), happen upon an old castle when their car breaks down and are ushered into a great hall where a kooky group of conventionists are dancing and singing. You’re probably just as confused as Brad and Janet are as they watch the action unfold, but you’re also intrigued. It’s a song that will inevitably get stuck in your head and make you want to join in on the dancing.

8. “Singin’ in the Rain,” Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

A Gene Kelly classic, the titular number is impressive and certifiably iconic. After getting a good night kiss from Kathy (Debbie Reynolds), Kelly’s Don Lockwood happily splashes about the puddles and dances out his feelings. It shows a man falling in love and happily singing about it as the rain falls from above.

9. “We Are Not Alone,” The Breakfast Club (1985)

A group of teenagers from different social circles is all locked in a room together for a Saturday detention. They seem to have nothing in common, but after a full day of fighting, smoking and sharing emotional secrets, they end up leaving with a new understanding of themselves and each other. The dance scene is peak ‘80s and acts as a welcome break to both the characters and audience from all the sitting around.

10. “We Go Together,” Grease (1978)

The lyrics of the song make absolutely no sense, but that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely fun. It’s the perfect (yet absolutely bizarre) ending to the coming-of-age musical. The entirety of Rydell High is brought together for the last day of school carnival and, naturally, they all burst into song and dance. It’s whacky and energetic and will have you tapping your feet along to the beat.

11. “Footloose,” Footloose (1984)

Let’s dance! The entire movie builds up to the final scene of the unofficial senior prom which Ren (Kevin Bacon) organizes in an act of rebellion to the town’s ban on music and dance. The prom turns out to be a success and it features one of the most iconic dance sequences in film.



Erin is a Journalism student at the University of Missouri. When she isn't drinking copious amounts of coffee, she is watching horror movies and listening to podcasts. She hopes to break into the film marketing world post-graduation.

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