Becoming Ginger Rogers


Ballroom Dance in Film


  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (1933-39 and 1949): Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire partnered in 10 movie musicals, including: Flying Down to Rio (1933, in which they had supporting roles in the film; the main star was Dolores Del Rio); The Gay Divorcee (1934 featuring the Cole Porter classic “Night and Day” and the song, “The Continental”); Roberta (1935, which featured the song, “I Won’t Dance”); Top Hat (1935, featuring the most famous Ginger and Fred song and dance number done to Irving Berlin’s song, “Cheek to Cheek”); Swing Time (1936, which introduced the song, “The Way You Look Tonight”); Follow the Fleet (1936); Shall We Dance (1937, featuring the song, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”); Carefree (1938); The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939, a musical biography of ballroom dancers Vernon and Irene Castle; this was Fred and Ginger’s last movie with each other for 10 years as she wanted more dramatic roles in movies); The Barkleys of Broadway (1949, Fred and Ginger’s last movie together)
  • Roseland (1977): The film is made up of three connected short features, The Waltz, The Hustle and The Peabody. All three stories share a theme of the protagonists trying to find the right dance partner, and all are set in the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
  • Strictly Ballroom (1992): Australian romantic comedy directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann.
  • Shall We Dance? (1996): Japanese ballroom dance film later remade into an American version starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez
  • Dance with Me (1998): Starring Vanessa Williams and Latin music star, Chayanne. Plot based on dancing: ballroom vs. street.
  • Shall We Dance? (2004): Remake of the Japanese film with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.
  • Mad Hot Ballroom (2005): Documentary about a ballroom dance program for fifth graders in the New York City public school system created by ballroom dance studio owner/former dance champion Pierre Dulaine.
  • Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2005): A musical romance film.
  • Take the Lead (2006): Starring Antonio Banderas as ballroom dance studio owner/champion, Pierre Dulaine, who volunteers to teach dance in a New York public school.

Other Popular Dance Films and/or Films with Memorable Dance Sequences

  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921): Rudolph Valentino dances tango.
  • The Red Shoes (1948): Classic British ballet film, loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and cited by directors Martin Scorsese and Brian DePalma among their all-time favorite films.
  • An American in Paris (1951): Gene Kelly and Leslie Carol star in this MGM musical with orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Climax of the film is a beautiful, 16-minute ballet.
  • Singing in the Rain (1952): Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor often referred to as one of the best movie musicals ever
  • The Bandwagon (1953): Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse
  • Funny Face (1957): A musical set in Paris with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire that is loosely based on the life of photographer Richard Avedon. Audrey Hepburn dances a jazzy ballet.
  • West Side Story (1961): Winner of 10 Academy Awards featuring choreography by noted Broadway director/producer/choreographer Jerome Robbins.
  • Zorba the Greek (1964): Anthony Quinn in his most famous role dancing the sirtaki on the beach.
  • The Turning Point (1977): Starring Mikhail Baryshnikov in his first film.
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977): A young John Travolta starring as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent at a Brooklyn disco featuring soundtrack by the Bee Gees.
  • Flashdance (1983): Jennifer Beale in that famous water-drenched dance number – “What a Feeling.”
  • Footloose (1984): Kevin Bacon in his first big movie musical smash hit.
  • White Nights (1985): Starring dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Geoffrey Hines, trying to escape from the Soviet Union.
  • Dirty Dancing ( 1987): Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in this iconic coming of age story and dancing their famous mambo number
  • Hairspray (1988 and 2007): A social commentary about injustices in America in the 60’s and 60’s style dance music and “downtown” rhythm and blues.
  • Scent of a Woman (1992): Al Pacino’s famous tango dance.
  • Pulp Fiction (1994): Travolta dances with Uma Thurman.
  • Flamenco (1995): Director Carlos Saura films a world of Flamenco – singing, dancing and guitar playing.
  • The Tango Lesson (1997): Film about Argentine tango shot mostly in black and white in Paris and Argentina.
  • Tango (1998): Film written and directed by Carlos Saura about Argentine tango.
  • Billy Elliot (2000): The film that inspired the Broadway production, Billy Elliott the Musical about an 11-year old boy from a coal mining region of the U.K. who aspires to be a ballet dancer.
  • Save the Last Dance (2001): Romantic drama dance film starring Julia Stiles.
  • Chicago (2002): Movie musical adapted from stage musical of same name about celebrity, scandal and corruption in “Jazz Age” Chicago. Starring Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifa.
  • The Company (2003): A film about the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
  • Mao’s Last Dancer (2009): Australian biographical film based on Chinese ballet dancer Li Cunxin’s autobiography of the same name.

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