Go Ahead and Jump
"Do it big, do it right and do it with style," said Fred Astaire. Here, to mark the influential dancer/choreographer's birthday, are 20 unforgettable movie scenes featuring stars who follow that advise, starting with one of Astaire's unlikeliest but loveliest partners, Audrey Hepburn.
"Funny Face" (1957)
The romantic pairing of 28-year-old Audrey Hepburn with 58-year-old Fred Astaire is all kinds of icky, but the age difference is shown off to hilarious effect when adorable beatnik Hepburn demonstrates her quirky modern-dance moves to a skeptical Astaire in the middle of a debauched Parisian café.
"West Side Story" (1962)
The pulsing energy of Jerome Robbins' groundbreaking choreography remains as exciting as ever. Hard to pick a favorite scene (the dance in the gym! "America"!), but those opening snaps followed by the Pow! Pow! moves of the Jets and the Sharks as they prowl through their urban jungle gets the heart racing every time.
"Stormy Weather" (1943)
This eye-popping "Jumpin' Jive" is considered one of the greatest dance sequences of all time. Brothers Fayard and Harold Nicholas soar through the air, over Cab Calloway's orchestra and up and down the stairs with elegance, swagger and Olympic-level athleticism—on legs that must have been made of titanium.
"Saturday Night Fever" (1977)
You may think of the iconic white suit and the best-selling Bee Gees soundtrack, but the success of this movie came down to one thing (well, two): John Travolta's magic hips. To see him strut and undulate on the dance floor to "You Should Be Dancing" is to see sex transformed into dance.
Travolta put those magic hips to good use again the following year, throwing some Elvis-like swivels into the raucous "Greased Lightning." This time, the lucky recipient of his sexy gyrations is a car.
"Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
Choreographed by Gene Kelly himself, this perfect expression of being blissfully in love (while splashing in puddles as joyously as a little kid) has been imitated by every tap-happy human with an umbrella for the last 60-odd years.
"Dirty Dancing" (1987)
Nobody puts Baby in a corner! Her proper place is being held high up in the air, after a leap into Patrick Swayze's muscular arms, as the finale to the steamiest dance routine those Catskills machers have ever seen.
"Billy Elliott" (2000)
In one of the greatest movies ever about the ability of art to transform lives, 11-year-old Billy—son of a striking coal miner in 1980s northern England—demonstrates his vital need to dance in a remarkable scene in a gym, where the passion on his face and raw talent win over the heart of his dad.
"Pulp Fiction" (1994)
Travolta makes his third appearance on this list with the unforgettable Twist he performs with Uma Thurman at Jack Rabbit Slim's, showing America that even after a long career slump and while wearing a greasy black wig, he can still bring the thrills on the dance floor.
"Risky Business" (1983)
We interrupt this dark comedy about a teenager and a prostitute to bring you 60 seconds of Tom Cruise dancing in nothing but a button-down shirt and tighty-whities to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll." You're welcome.
"Little Miss Sunshine" (2006)
The tension building up to little Olive's kiddie-beauty-pageant dance routine is intense: Will she embarrass herself and her family? But when the twangy sounds of "Super Freak" start and Olive innocently starts twerking, butt-slapping, and shimmying like her Grandpa taught her, somehow it brings her entire dysfunctional family together.
Amazing that in a town where dancing has been banned for years, the teenagers instinctively know how to do a perfect line dance at their prom. But who cares about logic, when it's this much fun? Kick off your Sunday shoes, indeed!
"Slumdog Millionaire" (2008)
This Oscar winner starts out in the slums of Mumbai and ends with a joyous Bollywood-style dance number in the middle of a train station, with the reunited lovers Dev Patel and Freida Pinto leading a massive group dance to "Jai Ho."
"The Breakfast Club" (1985)
High school will come right back and smack you in the face the moment you watch those five kids, stuck in detention for the day, blasting music on the hi-fi and doing their angsty '80s moves, complete with head-banging and air guitar.
The smooth and sexy moves by Baltimore teen Seaweed J. Stubbs (played by Elijah Kelley) in "Run and Tell That" are so intoxicating, Penny Pingleton's not the only girl who feels faint after watching him dance.
"La La Land" (2016)
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling's waltz through the stars at the Griffin Observatory is delightful, but our favorite scene is the opener: As traffic stops on the 105, anonymous Los Angelenos form a colorful flash mob, dancing atop their cars to "Another Day of Sun." The sheer logistics of staging this scene would make Busby Berkeley proud.
"Magic Mike" (2012)
Time will tell if Channing Tatum flexing his glutes in a G-string will have the lasting cultural impact of Travolta's bell-bottomed hustle, but millions of women whooping it up in movie theaters across America can't be wrong.
"The Fisher King" (1991)
As a homeless Robin Williams follows the object of his affection, Amanda Plummer, through the teeming crowds of Grand Central Station, the scene becomes unexpectedly magical as the entire crowd—nuns, sailors, cops and commuters—breaks into a graceful waltz.
"Silver Linings Playbook" (2012)
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence throw everything but the kitchen sink into their truly terrible dance routine for a ballroom competition that's the unlikely key to regaining their mental health (and dad Robert De Niro's football money—long story). But they do it with such panache the audience loves it, even if the judges don't.
Nothing expresses the sheer exuberance of being a teenager on a hot and grimy New York City day like the scene in which Bruno's dad blares the title song from his taxi; students from the High School of Performing Arts spill out into the street and literally stop traffic with their dance moves.
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