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The Hottest Dancers in Hollywood

Updated on January 23, 2012

This hub is for Countrywomen, who asked me for suggestions about the best dance movies and hottest stars in Hollywood in exchange for advice about the Five Best Bollywood Movies for People Who've Never Seen a Bollywood Movie.

The Classics

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

The golden age of the Hollywood musical is long gone, and most of its stars are dead, but the nice thing about film is that their talent and beauty have been preserved forever for our enjoyment.

Arguably the most famous of the era's great wizards of song and dance were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Now from a physical perspective, I have to say that Fred is merely pleasant. A guy who can sing like that and dance like that, however... hell, yeah, he's hot! And the lovely Ginger, of course, famously did everything Fred did... backwards and in high heels!

Gene Kelly was more classically handsome than Fred, and just as extraordinary a dancer. A lot of people are unaware that his famous Singin' in the Rain sequence was filmed when he was ill with a cold and a temperature of 103. When I watched the movie for the first time in my teens, I was also surprised by how funny it was. If you haven't seen it, run, don't walk, to your nearest video store to rent it!

Singin' in the Rain

Cyd Charisse and Gen Kelly in Broadway Melody
Cyd Charisse and Gen Kelly in Broadway Melody

Although I loved "Singin' in the Rain," I was not a big fan of the Broadway Melody sequence, which was kind of pointless and weird, in my opinion. However, it introduced me to another of classic Hollywood's most extraordinary dancers: the gorgeous Cyd Charisse. Fred Astaire called her "beautiful dynamite" and she was. Classically trained as a ballerina, she made a splash in films such as Singin' in the Rain, Silk Stockings, The Band Wagon, Meet Me in Las Vegas, and Brigadoon

Check out her killer legs in this famous scene from The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire.

The Band Wagon Clip

Rock and Roll

With the golden age of Hollywood musicals fading, rock and roll picked up the slack. Elvis Presley, who was hot stuff in his younger days, made a number of movies, including Jailhouse Rock, which featured his song of the same name:

Jailhouse Rock

There were also a number of rock and roll musicals, of which the most famous is probably Grease, featuring young John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

You're the One That I Want

"Slinky Hips" Travolta was also more or less single handedly responsible for the popularity of disco thanks to his role in Saturday Night Fever.

The 80's produced a whole slew of classic dance movies, including Flashdance and Footloose, though the only really enduring star (arguably) was Patrick Swayze. Here he is with Jennifer Grey in the greatest 80's dance movie of them all: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing Final Dance

Swayze had a cameo in the 2004 not-sequel, Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights,a mediocre film made enjoyable by the chemistry and charisma of its two young stars, Mexican hottie Diego Luna and English beauty Romola Garai. Oh yeah, the dancing's pretty good, too! 

Dirty Dancing 2 Trailer

Antonio Banderas is another modern actor who's got moves as well as looks. After his dreams of international football (soccer) stardom were ended by a foot injury in his teens, Banderas turned to acting. A talented ballroom dancer, he has danced in several roles on film, including a tango with Madonna in Evita, a sizzling paso doble with Catherine Zeta Jones (about whom more in a minute) in The Mask of Zorro, and a number of dances in his 2006 dance movie, Take the Lead.

My favorite is his sexy tango with Lithuanian dance star Katya Virshilas. 

Take the Lead Tango

Take the Lead was based loosely (very loosely) on the life of ballroom instructor Pierre Dulaine, who founded the New York Dancing Classrooms project featured in the charming documentary Mad Hot Ballroom.

Mad Hot Ballroom Trailer

Take the Lead isn't the only Hollywood film to showcase ballroom dancing in recent years. Australian director Baz Luhrmann is also a fan. Though Baz's visual style and tendency towards camp can be difficult for some to stomach, his dance scenes are fantastic.

Here's the beautiful final paso doble from his 1992 film Strictly Ballroom, featuring Paul Mercurio and Tara Maurice.

Strictly Ballroom Final Dance

Baz's 2003 film Moulin Rouge! also featured some surprisingly good singing and dancing by stars Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, though my favorite of its many dance scenes, El Tango de Roxanne, has fairly minimal roles for both. Instead, Jacek Koman and Caroline O'Connor take center stage as the unconscious Argentinian and Nini Legs in the Air.

(This is the dance version, not the version as it appears in the film.) 

El Tango de Roxanne

I also enjoyed the charming Japanese film Shall We Dance? about an uptight businessman who finds passion and life in ballroom dancing, and its less charming but still enjoyable Hollywood remake, with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez

Shall We Dance? trailer (American)

And with Richard Gere, we come back to Catherine Zeta Jones. (I said we would.) Though Zeta Jones is best known for her classic Hollywood beauty and style, she got her start as a world class tap dancer, and her training shows. Her breakout role in Hollywood, Elena in The Mask of Zorro, paired her with Antonio Banderas in a passionate paso doble, and she also showed off her skills in America's Sweethearts. But the single best showcase (so far) of her great dancing skills was 2002's Chicago, with Gere and Renee Zellweger.

All That Jazz

Cell Block Tango

I Can't Do It Alone

The ballet scene has also contributed some enjoyable dance stars. Legendary Russian danseur Mikhail Baryshnikov and American actor/dancer Gregory Hines starred in dance classic White Nights in the 80's, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, another legend, while in recent years Ethan Steifel, a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet appeared in the fairly dreadful Center Stage, which nevertheless had some great dance scenes in a variety of styles.

White Nights

Center Stage Trailer

Stiefel's costar in Center Stage, Amanda Schull, also appeared with Chinese dancer Chi Cao in Mao's Last Dancer, a biopic of Li Cunxin, a legendary Chinese danseur who defected from China in the early 1980s, nearly causing an international incident when he was held hostage in the Chinese Embassy.

Mao's Last Dancer

Julia Stiles took a crash course in both ballet and hip-hop to star in Save the Last Dance and did pretty well, while Jamie Bell became a breakout child star in the charming Billy Elliott, about a boy from a Northern English mining town who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

Save the Last Dance Trailer

Billy Elliott Trailer

Dance Movies I Want To Watch

I've seen a lot of dance movies, but nowhere near all. These are two that are particularly high on my To Watch list: 

The Company

Stomp the Yard

Well, there you go. I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into Hollywood's greatest dance hits and stars!

PS - If anyone wants to point me in the direction of a movie with some really good swing dancing, I'd be delighted. I couldn't think of a single one, but there's gotta be some.

Meanwhile, enjoy these talented folks from the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown 2006 - Liberation Division. 

Edit: Thanks to commenter Mandi Gould, check out the amazing Lindy Hoppers in Hellzapoppin'!



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    • MilaMaldonado profile image

      Milagros Maldonado 

      5 years ago from New York City


    • Rangoon House profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      I haven't seen all of your listed movies, but of those I have seen, it is hard for me to go past Dirty Dancing and Chicago. You are making me want to go to the movies.

    • Passion for dance profile image

      Passion for dance 

      7 years ago

      Great article! Thanks for including so many genres to really keep it interesting. You asked for a movie with some great swing dancing. I have two for you: A League of Their Own (one swing scene that is really high energy) and Swing Kids (story is a bit tragic, but the dancing is great!)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      where is michael jackson

    • nArchuleta profile image

      Nadia Archuleta 

      7 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Amazin how hot Gene Kelly was -- and still looks even with a modern eye watching classic films. His numbers in "The Pirate" were sensual! (Apparently he got a lot of "mash letters" after that.) J.Lo and Gere were good in "Shall We Dance" -- fun romp of a movie. Thanks for the entertainment!

    • profile image

      Mandi Gould 

      9 years ago

      I just came across this post. Very nice compilation! I see that you're doing a call for a good swing dancing clip. The best dance clip of all time, as agreed by the global swing dance community, is from Hellzapoppin':


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I always thought Jennifer Grey was miscast in Dirty Dancing and I'm not at all surprised that she and Swazye didn't like each other during filming. They didn't have any chemistry as a couple to me and their dislike for each other showed. Also, good looking "cool" guy like Johnny Castle would never fall for a scrawny, homely girl like Baby which made the whole story line unreal.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      11 years ago from Sydney

      Although I liked Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, I felt he was miscast in Grease. He's a terrific actor and moves smoothly, but I wouldn't call him a dancer or even that much of a singer. Patrick Swayze had major success as the lead in Grease on Broadway, and apparently was going to do the movie until Travolta had a hit with Fever and needed another vehicle. I would love ot have seen Swayze in Grease, as Dirty Dancing didn't give him much chance to show off his dance training (apart from that tour en l'air at the very end).

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      12 years ago from Wisconsin

      Wonderful choices. I've got to see a few of these again now that you put in the clips. Dirty Dancing was one of my all-time favorites! (One of those I didn't tell my mother I saw because she would have flipped over the title alone. I just confessed to her last summer. I was such a wild child. LOL)

    • countrywomen profile image


      12 years ago from Washington, USA

      Kerry- I have enjoyed this hub a lot and it will surely be my little island to escape to seek refuge from my work related tasks. You know that is a good thing that you feel that their was something missing. In my undergrad days I used to participate a lot in debates and most of the times the best points I would recollect after the debate got over with my dad which were unsaid in the actual debate(he always has ears to listen to his daughter no matter how boring I might be sometimes)...hehe

    • kerryg profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Netters and Triplet Mom!

      Countrywomen, I am so pleased you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy the rest as well! I probably will add more over time, as I'm sure I forgot some favorites!

    • Netters profile image


      12 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Love this hub. All very good videos. Loved every one of them Thank you.

    • countrywomen profile image


      12 years ago from Washington, USA

      Thanks kerry for this wonderful hub. Singing in the rain was too good. I will check out all the videos one by one. This is a very entertaining hub which I have bookmarked and whenever I feel like taking a break I will keep coming back for these videos. If you do intend to keep on adding even more videos I will be delighted as Hub pages provides me such a welcome relief from my regular programming job.

      Thanks for mentioning the bollywood videos link and hope more people become aware of so many wonderful movies made in that part of the world.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      12 years ago from West Coast

      Kerryg, thanks for a great hub. I enjoy dance a great deal and you have some great movies mentioned here. Because I am a huge tap dance fan I have to give thumbs up for the Singing in the Rain mention. Thanks!!

    • kerryg profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from USA

      Shockingly enough, that's one of the ones I haven't seen! Thanks for the video, though! It's on my list. :)

    • Elena. profile image


      12 years ago from Madrid

      Thanks for a thoroughly entertaining article!

      Call me a nostalgic here, but I miss a "classic": John Travolta's famous gig in Saturday Night Fever :-)


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