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!
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.
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
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
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)
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.