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.

The Steamiest Dance Sequences

They say that you can judge how someone is in bed, by how they dance… If that’s true, then these dancers must be some of the hottest people on earth because these dance sequences are so steamy it’s hard to believe they’re all from movies that are only rated PG-13 or R.

Take the Lead

This tango scene is pretty hot…

…but it doesn’t even compare to this one…

…giving new meaning to the term “it takes two to tango”.

The Thomas Crown Affair

Rene Russo’s dress alone could get this dance scene on the list…

Sin City

It’s Jessica Alba. Enough said.

Shall We Dance

Leave the light…

Center Stage

This might not be the sexiest dance scene, but it is quite possibly the sexiest ballet dancing you’ve ever seen.

Meet the Millers

Jennifer Aniston like you’ve never seen her before…

…in probably the only sexy scene that started in khakis.

From Dusk Till Dawn

Quentin Tarantino’s fans have been talking about his alleged foot fetish for years… and this sexy scene with Salma Hayak just might prove it.

Magic Mike

Really, any single frame from this movie would’ve qualified… but this might be the best one…

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had both long denied that their relationship began while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith… but the sexual chemistry between them is pretty noticeable in this scene…

Years later, Jolie did admit that they “fell in love” during the making of this movie.

Dirty Dancing

It’s no surprise that this scene was deleted from the film.

Receptionist Blues

When searching for a career, sometimes you’re forced to take jobs you’d rather not. Answering phones at a Los Angeles dance studio was one such job.

It wasn’t the minimum wage that made it so rotten––(that’s what I deserve for sitting in the back of every class; for being the kid who got “disruptive” on all his report cards; the kid who never “maximized his potential”). Rather, it was the quiet hours sitting alone that were the real torment. Some days not even one customer walked through the door. My only company became the perpetual honking of L.A. traffic, the humming fan of the old PC on my desk (which didn’t even have the distraction of internet access), and my own wretched reflection on the ceiling-to-floor mirrors. Inevitably I’d pull out my pen and pad to get some work done on my Great American Novel, but the hard ass owner would say, “I’ll dock you for that,” even though there was literally nothing else to do. And so I wound up sitting there pondering the implications of pinching from the register. I had the “Receptionist Blues.”

Months passed, and the frightening reality that this was not a temporary-hold-me-over-while-I-write-a-novel job, but a job-job, sunk in. I was a dance studio receptionist, no doubt about it. But at least I was able to switch shifts from the interminable midday shift to the 5–11PM slot, the after-work crowd, when actual classes were held and I had a chance to make some commission on sales. It didn’t matter that I had to listen to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” 50 times in a row as some madly in love couple attempted to recreate the final scene of Dirty Dancing. I was now around music and people.

The group classes were my favorite. Foxtrot, ballroom, hip-hop, ballet, tango, swing––I watched, even practicing some of the steps behind my partitioned desk. But salsa was my favorite of all. Twenty or so effervescent, wildly spinning, perspiring individuals, relentlessly practicing simply for love of the craft.

“You’re telling me you’re not doing this for a competition or special event?” I questioned. I don’t really have any healthy hobbies, so this was a shock to me. They were dancing for exercise, to socialize, to get laid, to cultivate a skill––but they also found great joy in it. They worked hard, and the more I observed the more I noticed the progress they made.

One girl in particular, Jessica (who had curves like the Rabbit), seemed to me a pro. But when I asked her how long she’d been dancing, she said “only two months” – a remarkable achievement considering how she twisted and gyrated so seductively. I’d watch her, the lascivious receptionist that I was, from behind my desk and covet not just her body, but her partnership on the dance floor.

“That’s it!” I decided. “I’ll take classes myself.” But my minimum wage making ass couldn’t afford it (no discount from my frugal employer). “A DVD would be much more practical,” I determined. But I didn’t know what company to choose. And then my time as a dance studio receptionist came to an end, and I’d never see Jessica Rabbit again. But I think of her sometimes, with her red hair and brown eyes, and wonder if one day I might catch her on the dance floor.