Recently musicals have reached the big screen in a big way: Mary Poppins Returns, The Greatest Showman, and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again are just a few from the past two years to come out to big box office numbers. But there are some classic dance moments from films that every dancer MUST see. And even though Chatham, NJ is still close to some of the best dancing in the country thanks to Lincoln Center and Broadway, you can watch some of the most iconic dancers of the past century on your screen.

We’ve ranked the Top 5 to inspire you!

5. “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails” Top Hat, 1935. Choreographer: Fred Astaire, Hermes Pan

There is a reason that Fred Astaire is a dance icon and this is one of his most celebrated scenes. Watch how he taps rapid-fire across the stage – even using his cane as almost a third tap shoe. Once you see this scene, you’ll realize how many other movies and tv shows have parodied it in the past century.

4. “The Barn Raising Dance” Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954. Choreographer: Michael Kidd

Okay, okay, okay. Believe us. This is going to look hokey at the beginning, but keep watching until the end and we are sure you will understand this is one of the best pieces of dance ever filmed. (which, by the way, is what film critic Stephanie Zacharek also said about this number.) Watch the dancers ON A BALANCE BEAM! Also, keep a sharp eye for the actor in the blue shirt. Although he is more of a gymnast than a dancer, we’ll be seeing him in another video in this list.

3. “Singin’ in the Rain” Singin’ in the Rain, 1952. Choreography: Gene Kelly

I. Con. Ic. What more can you say about this number? Gene Kelly is beyond amazing in this piece that he performed and choreographed. Fun fact – he shot the scene with a fever of 103 degrees!

2. “One” A Chorus Line, 1985. Choreography: Michael Bennett, Jeffrey Hornaday

Musical theater in the 1970s and 1980s was dominated by A Chorus Line. Finally, it told stories of the people who are always singing and dancing in the back. Although many have felt like the film version of the musical doesn’t capture the passion of the stage play, the big boffo dance number at the end is still quite remarkable. Also, according to the director Richard Attenborough, a dancer named Madonna Ciccone (yes, the actual Madonna) auditioned for a role in the film and didn’t get the part.

  1. “Cool” West Side Story, 1961. Choreography: Jerome Robbins

There are few moves in dance that will evoke a song, choreographer, musical, and movie as much as the finger snapping bent over skips in Jerome Robbins’ beloved film. Honestly, it is hard to choose one number – “America” and “The Dance at the Gym” are also phenomenal pieces. Look over the shoulder of the Jet who’s singing. See the guy in the jacket and maroon shirt? We told you we’d see him again! For someone who’s more of a gymnast than a dancer, Russ Tamblyn sure gets cast in a lot of dance-heavy movies!

These are five numbers we can’t get enough of! You’ll find pieces of them crop up in some of the pieces we choreograph for our students at Anne Fattal’s Footnotes so they can be a part of dance history and learn by doing. Of course, thanks to YouTube, we’re able to learn by dancing and binge watching as well!

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