Being a North-East Dance School, of course we love Billy Elliot, but there are also some other great tap routines seen in Movies over the years!
Tap dancing is one of the classic styles of dance to feature in movies and has been around since movies were first made. While many of the great tap dancing sequences in movies come from those early times, there have also been some great later additions to the genre that show that tap is a current and fresh as ever.
- Swing Time - This 1936 classic featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers is what the iconic styles of dance movies were all about. The dancing is amazing, the music is perfect and there is also a great story behind it all. The plot isn’t anything complicated – guy wants to marry girl but father says he must financially support her first. He goes to New York as a professional gambler but meets a dance instructor instead.
- Yankee Doodle Dandy - Known for his gangster roles, James Cagney was also brilliant in dance movies such as this one, the life story of composer George M Cohan. The story followed Cohan’s life as a showcase of the classic American, working hard and getting the rewards and features an amazing tap dance sequence down a flight of stairs at the end of the film that is definitely worth waiting for.
- Singin in the Rain- Released in 1952, this is undoubtedly one of the best-known tap dancing movies but often people don’t realise that the plot is about a silent movie star with a terrible voice who meets a starlet played by Debbie Reynolds. The movie is set in the 1920s when movies were first being made and feature some amazing dance scenes including the iconic tap dance sequence with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the song Moses – along with a couple of other great routines!
- Kiss Me Kate - This movie was a musical that was based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and was one of the first movie musicals with huge dance routines, big sets and lots of bright colours. Watch out for Ann Miller, whose dancing talents were often underrated at the time but secretly steals the show.
- Tap - Tap was the first in the re-emergence of movies featuring tap dance, released in 1989. The film starred Gregory Hines as a newly released prisoner trying to build up his life again. What makes it so successful is the inclusion of a number of the ‘older generation’ of dancers including Sammy Davis Jr who plays the lead character’s father.
- Stepping Out - This film, released in 1991, is more about the joy of dance than perfect dance choreography. It features Liza Minelli trying to teach tap to a class of terrible dancers but they learn to love it and that simple plot can help others do the same.
- Billy Elliott - Mention modern dance films and the 2000 release is the one that comes to most people’s mind, about the boy from a mining town who wants to learn to dance. His passion for dancing despite it being frowned upon inspired more than just people wanting to dance.
- Bojangles - The 2002 film directed by Gregory Hines is a look at the life of tap dancing legend Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, an amazingly talented dancer who suffered due to the racism of his era yet still managed to reach so many people.
- Chicago - Chicago was remade in 2002 and featured an all-star cast. To prepare for the movie, Richard Gere studied tap for three months and the results paid off – the film won six Academy Awards and was the first musical since Oliver! in 1968 to win Best Picture.
- The Artist - The Artist was a black and white silent film that was released in 2011 and also won a number of awards. It was set in the 1920s and looked at both a relationship between a senior star and young actress but also the time when silent movies were replaced by ‘talkies’.