The Top Five Inspirational Dance Movies

The Top Five Inspirational Dance Movies

There is just something special about dance movies that get the heart and soul going. Then add an uplifting message with the dancing and the movie becomes even more powerful. Here are five of my favorites that never fail to inspire me. They always leave me feeling good, thinking that I can do anything, and up on my feet dancing.

1. Mao’s Last Dancer (2009)
Director: Bruce Beresford. Stars: Chi Cao, Bruce Inspirational movies Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen.
This true story is based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, born in 1961, who grew up in poverty in China and was put into very harsh training to become a dancer beginning at age eleven. The end result was he became an international premiere ballet dancer. His fight for artistic and personal freedom is very inspirational. The dance scenes are exquisite.

2. One Last Dance (2003)
Director: Lisa Niemi. Stars: Patrick Swayze, Lisa Niemi, George De La Pena.
This inspirational movie shows the inside world of dancers with the theme that it is never too late to realize your dreams. It is a labor of love made by Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze. Their dance scenes are absolutely gorgeous and reflect their true-life love for each other. This story started off as a critically acclaimed stage play, Without A Word, in Beverly Hills in 1984.

3. Save The Last Dance (2001)
Director: Thomas Carter. Stars: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington.
This movie is the story of two high school students who use dance as a way to grow and find their life-paths. Sarah struggles to get back into living her dream of becoming a ballerina and Derek uses hip hop to focus him away from gang involvement. There is a sub-plot of racial relationships. The dancing is often cool and fun with great music.

4. Billy Elliot (2000)
Director: Stephen Daldry. Stars: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Jean Heywood.
An eleven year old boy in England discovers dance which sets him free. Eventually, dance helps him deal with his mother’s death and family relationships, and then moves him beyond poverty to become a renowned professional dancer. The dance outside by Billy is just exhilarating. The movie was adapted into a stage play which has been extremely successful on Broadway and in London.

5. Dirty Dancing (1987)
Director: Emile Ardolino. Stars: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Cynthia Rhodes.
What more can be said about this classic love story set in the ’60s in which two people from different worlds find each other and their true inner selves through dance. The movie has fantastic dancing and music, wonderful acting, and many sub-plots. It is said that the collaboration on this movie by the writer, choreographers, and actors was absolutely amazing. This gem has been running as a successful stage play all over the world and continues to have enormous international cultural impact via music, television, and more.

It is interesting that in all of these movies–beginning with Patrick Swayze portraying the character, Johnny in Dirty Dancing, there is at least one male principal character who sends out the message that it is really more than okay to be a male and a dancer. Another powerful theme in these movies is how dance intensifies a love relationship. In conclusion, every one of these inspirational movies shows the main character(s) experiencing the joy of dancing, the hard training and work required to be a dancer, and the fight for and realization of their dreams.

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