The ten best dance movies

With Black Swan floating into theaters, we lace up our hoofing shoes and rank our favorites.

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10. LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET (2009)
Brilliant documentarian Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies) scaled the heights of his own formidable reputation to make this definitive portrait of professional dancers at work. A dense two-and-a-half hours' worth of performance and practice, the film is also an understated glimpse into the operations of a centuries-old French institution.—JR

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9. TOP HAT (1935)
"Oh, I'd love to climb a mountain, and to reach the highest peak," croons Fred Astaire in this romantic classic, "but it doesn't thrill me half as much as dancing cheek to cheek." Ginger Rogers swoons on cue, and the pair step gracefully into the essence of Hollywood dreams.—JR

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8. HELLZAPOPPIN' (1941)
This screen adaptation of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson's comic revue features the single most kinetic swing-dancing sequence ever: an acrobatic marvel of flips, slides and leaps to a jumpin' jazz tune. Though the scene lasts a mere three minutes, it almost single-handedly revived the Lindy Hop in Europe during the '80s.—DF

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7. WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins may have shared the Best Director Oscar, but it's Robbins, the original Broadway production's choreographer, who made the film's modern-dance scenes so memorable. Gang members theatrically hoofing down actual city streets in the prologue still thrills; we defy you to walk through Lincoln Center without snapping your fingers, Jets-style.—DF

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6. THE BAND WAGON (1953)
Vincente Minnelli's marvelous showbiz musical casts hat-and-tails hoofer Fred Astaire and leggy Cyd Charisse as reluctant dance partners who eventually take to each other. It's hard to choose a favorite number in a film of so many riches—maybe the "Girl Hunt" finale, a brilliant parody of Gene Kelly's conceptual ballets.—KU

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5. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977)
The disco numbers were sensations, crystallizing a worldwide phenomenon. But the opening scene of this 1970s landmark might be even more powerful: A wide-collared John Travolta strides the streets of Bay Ridge, scoping out the cuties and stopping only to double-stack a slice of pizza. We don't know it yet, but he's already dancing.—JR

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4. THE COMPANY (2003)
Few movies believably portray the day-to-day toll dancing takes on its practitioners; Robert Altman's extraordinary drama is one of the exceptions. As we follow Neve Campbell and her troupe through a season at Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, we're made fully aware of the sweat and sacrifice that goes into each performance.—KU

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3. THE RED SHOES (1948)
This Holy Grail of ballet movies continually turns legions of young fans into future super-troupers—ironic for a cautionary tale about the power of art. Once you see Moira Shearer & Co. pirouetting through Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, however, it's easy to understand why.—DF

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2. ALL THAT JAZZ (1979)
Many have tried, yet no one can quite capture the complicated ingenuity of Bob Fosse's jaggedly edited dance sequences. Check out this entrancing semiautobiographical feature about a choreographer (Roy Scheider) with a fervent death wish. Each number—especially the astonishingly carnal "Air-otica"—melds flights of fancy with penetrating character psychology.—KU

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1. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
How could it not be our top pick? If ever a movie captured the euphoria of motion, it's this one. Iconically, Gene Kelly splashes down the street to the title tune, untroubled by showers or the glare of a beat cop. Donald O'Connor walks on walls ("Make 'Em Laugh"), Debbie Reynolds melts hearts ("You Are My Lucky Star") and the magnificent Cyd Charisse stretches out like a giraffe ("Broadway Melody Ballet").—JR

Read our interview with Black Swan's Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman

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