Ten Movies That Accidentally Teach You How to Dance

Ace Ventura shows you proper ballet turn out.

Ace Ventura shows you proper ballet turn out.

 Some movies are dance movies, with a capital “D.” These movies seek to illuminate the already shimmering world of dance, and bring new converts into the fold. Dirty Dancing captured many an imagination, and straightened many a frame after Patrick Swayze chastised, “Spaghetti Arms!” But for every Dirty Dancing, there are many non-dance focused films that actually snuck dance lessons into their scripts. Here are 10 great examples of these fun, accidental learning curves.


#10 Pulp Fiction

Dance: The Twist

 Tarantino is famously a musical director, and Pulp Fiction really put his vintage tastes on display. By the 90s, most people had totally forgotten The Twist, but seeing Uma Thurman and John Travolta torqueing their hips on the dance floor ignited a craze. Just by observing these two, you can get a pretty good idea of how to do the dance, and then realize what a workout it is for your lats!

#9 Hitch

Dance: Awkward Man Dance

 Will Smith’s legendary dance skills come into play in this charming romantic comedy when he tries to teach clueless bachelor Kevin James how to dance. While Smith gives a great, easy lesson about how to move if you just have no idea what to do, this movie also contains a hidden, more valuable gem: expressing yourself is the best dance move of all, no matter what anyone thinks.

#8 Grease

Dance: Hand Jive

 Really, the entire school dance scene in this film could be a lesson in how to provocatively partner dance. In fact, all of the moves these (supposedly) high school students do are extremely appropriate…for anywhere but in a high school dance. Nevertheless, one can’t help watching Olivia Newton-John and Travolta (again) without trying to mimic their motions. Generations of schoolgirls know the handjive just from watching this movie a thousand times.

#7 Addams Family Values

Dance: Ballroom/Tango

 A dark horse candidate for our list (see what I did there?), this sequel to the gleefully ghastly Addams Family was noteworthy for many reasons, but perhaps none so much as this excessively silly yet passionate dance between Gomez and Morticia. While many of these dance moves are, obviously, nigh impossible, there is actually a great amount of proper etiquette and technique present in this scene. Gomez invites Morticia onto the dance floor with impeccable style, their attitudes and facial expressions (not to mention their demeanor) fit perfectly with the amorous, antagonistic tango, and their frame is almost flawless! Plus they are aces at engaging with their audience, as any expert dancer would do.

#6 Moulin Rouge

Dance: Argentine Tango

 In a more realistic turn for the tango, Moulin Rouge includes a detailed scene that captures the perfect essence of the dance, along with most of the lovely steps as well. Moulin Rouge in general is a frenetic film that features many interesting dance lessons, if you pay close enough attention!

#5 Rocky Horror Picture Show

Dance: Time Warp

 In a film with cross-dressing aliens, a scantily clad Susan Sarandon, and shiny gold Speedos, who would have expected such a detailed dance lesson? But there it is, with diagrams and everything! No one can watch this scene and not know how to do the Time Warp afterwards. It’s just a jump to the left!

#4 Magic Mike

Dance: Hip-Hop/Manly Stripping

 If there’s any motto you can learn from these films, it’s that strippin’ ain’t easy. Now, while Channing Tatum in Magic Mike pulls off some moves that human beings probably shouldn’t be able to pull off, the more average, yet still athletic MConaughey gyrates, contorts, and shimmies in a way that could teach any man watching how to shake his stuff for his lover, or an adoring crowd.

#3 Death Proof

Dance: Lady Stripping

 Again Tarantino with his retro music, and extended dance scenes. And somehow, he provides a lap dance to end all lap dances. Any woman would be wise to watch this scene and take notes, as these moves are probably too hot even for the strip club, but can be toned down if you must use them out in public.

#2 James Bond films

Dance: Bellydancing

 Who knew that all these years, James Bond films were really trying to teach all of us to belly dance? Now, the technique these women show is not so easy to mimic, but it’s almost impossible not to try after watching them gyrate sexily for several minutes!

#1 Cinderella (or any film where they dance the Waltz)

Dance: Waltz


The Waltz is a surprisingly easy dance to learn, considering how hard it is to actually dance it in a modern ballroom. Since it is a traveling dance, it requires a much larger amount of room than most dance halls have nowadays, and an ability to navigate that many modern dancers don’t have developed. However, if you ever get the opportunity, you’ll probably know how to Waltz, if you watch this clip or any period film, because they’re always doing the basic box step, and almost nothing else! Simple, elegant, and impossibly romantic.

10 Love Lessons You Can Learn From Popular Dance Movies

There is a lot you can learn from dance films… but I don’t just mean dance moves. You can learn a lot about love from these flicks too. We all know that dance is often a metaphor for love… Whether you’re picking a partner, knowing when to lead and when to follow, or trusting someone else to catch you when you take a leap of faith… the same rules that apply to dancing apply to dating.

So for Valentine’s Day, here’s some advice to live by from the experts (Patrick Swayze, John Travolta, Channing Tatum and more)…


1. Don’t write someone off until you get to know them.

This is one of the staples of dance movies, new and old. There’s often the “bad boy” who  is really a good guy, the seemingly uptight character who finally lets loose, or the mousey girl who takes off her glasses and surprises everyone with her sexy moves. Maybe you should give that person you’ve been overlooking a chance.


Strictly Ballroom, 1993


2. Choose substance over flash.

The counterpoint to the previous lesson…. Don’t be fooled by the flashy rich guy who promises to make you a star (but is really just trying to get in your pants) or the sexy bombshell who is probably just using you. Don’t just buy the hype… look beyond the exterior.


Honey 2003


3. Your parents don’t always know what’s best for you.

Sure it’s a good idea to consider your parents’ input on the people you date… but remember that they’re not always right. If they don’t approve of your significant other, that’s their problem. (Especially if your daddy is a preacher who thinks dancing is sinful.) You’re a grown up. You can make your own decisions.

footloose dad

Footloose, 1984


4. Always be yourself.

You can try to be something you’re not… but who wants to live a lie? If you have to fake it to get someone to like you, then that person isn’t worth it. Find someone who likes you for you.

billy elliot

Billy Elliot, 2000


5. …But be the best version of yourself.

Relationships and dancing both require hard work. Be the best person you can be. Take pride in your appearance, practice your moves and don’t take your partner for granted.


Saturday Night Fever, 1977


6. Sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re dating.

There’s a difference between a one-night-stand and a relationship. If you’re not sure where you stand – ask. Don’t be a clinger.


Center Stage, 2000


7. Take risks.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or try something new. Step outside your comfort zone… Bust out those moves you’ve been practicing at home. Ask out that hottie at the bar you’ve been making eyes at all night. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself… just take a chance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

step up

Step Up, 2006


8. It’s all about trust.

You need to have faith in your partner… trust them to take the lead or follow your lead. Trust them to catch you when you leap… to be there when you stop spinning… and to always be in step. If you’re too busy worrying about what the other person is doing, you’ll end up falling flat on your ass.

dirty dancing

Dirty Dancing, 1987


9. Never ditch your partner for an ex.



Grease, 1978


and finally…

10. Always bring protection… just in case.


Magic Mike, 2012