Kids' Entertainment

20 Of The Best Dance Movies For Kids, Teens, & The Whole Family

From ballet and ballroom to hip-hop, salsa and disco, there is a dance flick for every genre.

Growing kids need a healthy diet, sleep pattern, exercise, and some dancing may help as well. Dancing is not only fun but beneficial to a child’s physical, emotional, mental, social, and cognitive development, according to the non-profit, Advancing Dance Education In The Arts (NDEO). Watching a few dance flicks together as a family may inspire your kids to stretch and rock it out in the world’s oldest art form.

Dance movies are the perfect balance between action, romance, drama, and comedy.

Even if the rhythm gene missed you or your kid, you can’t help but bop your head and tap your feet to the deejay beat or live band. You’re cheering on that dance group to finally beat their rivals in the competition after watching them go through so many adversities. You’re hoping that the main character gets into her dream dance school or picks up that leading role after watching them go through their trials and tribulations to get there.

Dance flicks are also an opportunity to expose kids to different genres of dance and music. For example, who says penguins can’t teach a toddler how to tap dance? Or learn ballet from Barbie! Plus how hip-hop has literally saved lives and restored dreams!

Below is a list of 20 of the best dance movies you can watch as a family.

Happy Feet

Mumble cannot sing like the rest of his penguin crew, which is a bit of a downer since singing is used to attract soul mates. But he can sure tap dance! Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, and the late Brittany Murphy star in the 2006 animated, heartwarming, family film. In a 2006 interview, Wood was asked how he found his “inner penguin.” He replied that it was “fairies then it's a lot squawking and waddling.”

Common Sense Media calls it an “Ultra-cute kid flick.” Once you’re done with the first movie, watch the sequel! Happy Feet 2 danced its way to HBO Max earlier this year.

Watch Happy Feet, rated PG, on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Apple TV.

A Ballerina’s Tale

This feature documentary is about Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. Copeland’s story of race, body image, endurance, and courage makes it a great choice for any aspiring ballerina to watch, specifically girls of color. “I was once terrified to do anything that made me uncomfortable,” Misty tells Romper, who is also the author of the children’s book, “Bunheads.” The thought of doing ballet was so scary. But once I tried it, it changed my life. I think challenging yourself makes you so much stronger!"

Common Sense Media describes it as an “engrossing docu” that “introduces a powerful role model.”

Watch A Ballerina’s Tale, rated NR, on Amazon Prime Video.

An American Girl: Isabelle Dances Into The Spotlight

This movie is a great confidence booster for kids struggling to find their spotlight. Isabelle is a 9-year-old aspiring dancer studying ballet at a prestigious performing arts school. She feels overshadowed by her older, more talented sister Jade and constantly attacked by a competitive classmate who points out all her flaws. But when a famous ballerina encourages Isabelle to audition for a professional ballerina spot, it’s her time to shine!

The American Girl adaptation gets a four out of five-star rating on Common Sense Media.

Watch An American Girl: Isabelle Dances Into The Spotlight, rated G, on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.


Imagine moving to a small town where dancing is banned! Well, one rebellious teen changes all of that when he cuts loose! And while you’re at it, make it a Footloose double feature movie night: There is a 2011 version of this movie, but we suggest introducing kids to the original 1984 version first starring young Kevin Bacon.

Common Sense Media gives the 1984 classic a three out of five-star rating and calls it a “dated rebellion tale.” But the 2011 remake, with the same three-star rating, is considered to be “surprisedly fresh” and “faithful to original.”

Watch Footloose, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Starz, and Apple TV.

Another Cinderella Story

Selena Gomez’s version of Cinderella has dancing shoes instead of glass slippers. And she gets to dance with her pop star crush all night... at least until midnight!

According to its synopsis, the 2008 twist on the classic tale revolves around Mary Santiago (played by Gomez). Santiago is “a natural-born dancer at heart, working for cruel pop star Dominique and her two horrible daughters, Britt and Bree.” The Beverly Hills High School junior aspires to audition for the prestigious Manhattan Academy of Performing Arts, in hopes to dance her way into a brighter future and away from her evil stepmother and sisters.

Common Sense Media said Gomez brought “fresh pop fun to an old tale.”

Watch Another Cinderella Story, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.

Save The Last Dance

With a great balance of ballet and hip-hop, your teens will enjoy this one for a movie night. The club dance scene with Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas is the best part, behind 10 Things I Hate About You’s Juilliard audition. Athena Cage’s soundtrack song for the movie, “All Or Nothing,” is inspiring in itself. A great movie that also teaches lessons in perseverance, healing after a tragedy, love, and overcoming prejudice.

Despite the “cursing and underage drinking,” Common Sense Media reported, it’s a teen flick that can still teach a lot of life lessons about giving “your everything.”

Watch Save The Last Dance, rated PG-13, on Hulu, Apple TV, and HBO Max.


The 2009 movie is an updated and more kid-friendly version of the 1980 original dance classic about the artistic students at the New York Academy of Performing Arts. Hot Chocolate Nutcracker creator and famed choreographer and dancer, Debbie Allen, stars in the remake. Allen had been talking about remaking the 80’s dance movie for years. “‘Fame’ is such a great brand it's perfect to bring it back for a new generation striving more than ever to achieve it,” Allen said in a 2009 interview with The Philadephia Inquirer. She spoke about how the influence of social media has altered the perception of what fame is ( i.e. influencers) but the drive to achieve it remains the same. “Since performers younger than ever now seek fame the way past generations of kids sought ice cream cones.”

Common Sense Media described the teen musical as a remake with “edgy content for a PG movie” and gave it two stars. Nonetheless, it’s appropriate for kids 12 and up.

Watch Fame, rated PG, on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video.

Step Up

Touchstone Pictures

We don’t endorse crime but in this case, vandalizing a performing arts school paid off! It earned teen Tyler Gage, played by Channing Tatum, a scholarship and dance with an up-and-coming dancer, Nora, played by Jenna Dewan Tatum. And here’s a fun fact: The movie was the base of the couple’s real-life love story. In a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Channing shared the story of how he met his ex-wife on the set of the 2006 movie. They married in 2009 and separated in 2019, unfortunately. Common Sense Media called it a “clichéd dance movie; nonetheless, the movie is a solidified dance favorite.

Watch Step Up, rated PG-13, on Apple TV and Amazon Prime.

You Got Served

Breathe In! Breathe Out! Now Drop! Now Drop! Now Drop! Now Drop! Dance crews and Steve Harvey! R&B boy group, B2K were at the height of their glory in this 2004 dance movie. Not only is it a great hip-hop flick, but it also teaches valuable lessons about friendship, perseverance, and standing up for yourself. Oh and some teen, puppy love! Rest in peace forever Lil Saint ( spoiler alert). It also gives great early 2000s nostalgia like cornrows and Phat Farm. A two-star rating from Common Sense Media on this PG-13 movie.

Watch You Got Served, rated PG-13, on Netflix.


Another great 2000s nostalgic dance movie.! Jessica Alba is a young hip-hop dance teacher from the Bronx who is fighting to keep her neighborhood’s community center open, all while pursuing her own dreams to become a choreographer. Yolanda Adams’ “I Believe” song that the kids dance to at the end of the movie is uplifting and empowering. This movie is more appropriate for teens. Romeo Miller was still called Lil Romeo in this 2003 movie. Although Common Sense Media gave it a one-star rating, there were lots of gold-star performances. Check it out for yourself.

Watch Honey, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights


A similar plot to the 1987 movie starring Jenifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze. Teen girl moves away and falls in love with a cute guy from the opposite side of the tracks who also happens to be a pretty good dancer. Only this time around it’s in Cuba and the theme of the evening is salsa! It’s just enough Latin spice for the kids to watch. Fans of the original will also appreciate the cameo appearance of the late original, Dirty Dancing star Swayze as another dance teacher. But this time, there are no “hungry eyes” for the student.

Watch Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, rated PG-13, on Hulu.

Feel The Beat

Aspiring dancer April (played by Sofia Carson) dreams of getting into a prestigious dance conservatory and becoming a full-time professional dancer. But instead, she finds herself pushed aside and teaching the art to kids. This movie is a great lesson about fulfillment, kindness, stepping stones, and the unlikely places and situations your gift can be used to motivate others. Actresses Eva Hauge and Shiloh Nelson and a cast of young talent complete this dance troop.

Common Sense Media gave the 2020 movie a three out of five-star rating with some “mild language.”

Watch Feel The Beat, rated G, on Netflix.

Barbie In “The Dancing 12 Princesses”

A Barbie twist on The Brothers Grimm's The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Barbie is the beautiful Princess Genevieve. King Randolph asks his cousin to teach the princess and her eleven sisters the proper royal etiquette. Instead, she bans dancing in the palace (sounds a bit like Footloose doesn’t it?). To get away, Genevieve and her 11 sisters discover a secret entrance to a magical world where they can dance all night! But they also must save their father and kingdom! This is a fun, girly movie for ballet lovers. Canadian voice actress Kelly Sheridan plays Genevieve/Barbie.

Common Sense Media gave it a two-star rating but if your child loves Barbie, it’s bound to be a favorite nonetheless.

Watch Barbie In “The 12 Dancing Princesses,” rated G, on Amazon Prime Video.

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

This Netflix documentary goes behind the scenes at Debbie Allen Dance Academy and what it takes to put their performance, Hot Chocolate Nutcracker together. Allen created the performance in 2008 to inspire Black children who dance. It also pays homage to the legendary dancer’s illustrious career. Allen told the Chicago Defender she created her dance academy after her daughter faced discrimination at an academy she was attending. “We are giving this opportunity to young people because I don’t care how old I get, in my heart, I’ll always be that child who was in Houston, Texas and couldn’t go to ballet school because I was black, or couldn’t go to see the production of “The Nutcracker” because everything was segregated.”

A four-star rating, Common Sense Media called Dance Dreams “inspirational” with positive messages and role models.

Watch Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, rated PG, on Netflix.

Full Out

An inspiring movie about a teen ex-gymnast who finds purpose again when she takes up dancing. Ariana Berlin plays Scout, a 14-year-old gymnast who was injured in a car accident that ended her Olympic goals. But through hip-hop dancing, she finds healing and recovery, which ends up putting her back on the gym mat. Full Out is based on the true, inspirational story of UCLA Bruins athlete Ariana Berlin. There’s a 2020 sequel to this movie as well called Full Out 2: You Got This! It’s also based on the 2016 Oklahoma Sooners gymnastics team, specifically Brenna Dowell, Chayse Capps, and AJ Jackson.

Common Sense Media rated the original Full Out three stars.

Watch Full Out, rated PG, on Netflix.



This heartwarming, animated movie follows the story of a young orphan named Félicie (played by Maleficent’s Elle Fanning) who takes a leap of faith to attend a famous dance school in Paris, with the help of her best friend. This movie takes place in 19th-century France and touches on classical, ballet techniques. The Fault in Our Stars actor Nat Wolff plays Victor, Félicie’s friend. Together the orphans run away to Paris to start new lives. The movie is full of adventure and all about taking risks.

Common Sense Media called it “heartwarming” and rated it three stars.

Watch Leap!, rated PG, on Netflix.

West Side Story

Not only is this ten-time, Academy Award-winning movie one of the best musicals ever, it’s also one of the greatest dance flicks. Check out the original 1961 Natalie Wood version first, then follow up with the 2021 remake starring Rachel Zeglar, in theaters on Dec. 10. West Side is a musical twist on Romeo and Juliet about a New York gang member who falls in love with the sister of a rival gang member.

Originally directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the 1961 movie got a five-star rating from Common Sense Media and was called a “musical masterpiece.”

Watch West Side Story rated G, on Apple TV.


Nikki Blonsky plays a fun-loving teen, Tracy Turnblad, who dances her spot onto the "The Corny Collins Show,” a satire of the 1960s classic dance show, American Band Stand. Not only is this movie full of good soul music, catchy lyrics, John Travolta, and Queen Latifah, it’s also packed with social justice when Tracy ends up integrating the entire dance show! Ricki Lake stars in the original 1988 version, but the 2007 version is just as enjoyable.

Common Sense Media rated it four stars and called it an “infectiously fun musical with a message,” we can all groove to.

Watch Hairspray, rated PG, on HBO Max and Netflix.

The Wiz

Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Michael Jackson plays the Scarecrow. That’s enough to solidify this Motown remake of The Wizard of Oz, a certified dance movie classic. Some more fun facts about the movie according to Dance Dish Media: The 1978 production reportedly had 400 dancers making three costume changes in this one number. The “Emerald City Sequence” is reported to be the most expensive shoot ever filmed at the World Trade Center and took four nights to create. Choreographer Louis Johnson told the Washington Post in a 1978 feature that he auditioned 700 people for dance spots.

Common Sense Media rated the soulful, class remake four stars.

Watch The Wiz, rated G, on Amazon Prime Video.

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

From a super young Ice T to leg warmers, this classic is straight 80s nostalgia. Starring legendary dancers Shabbo Doo and Michae Chambers, this golden dance flick pays homage to the breakdancing craze of the 1980s and can be quite educational.

Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo couldn't be more 1984 but from the purview of today,” Esquire columnist Nathan Rabin wrote in his 2015 commentary about the movie, “but they fit perfectly within the history of dance movies as the corny but super-fun connective tissue between old-fashioned musicals of the 30s, 40s, and 50s and the Step Up movies of today, whose plots, themes and conflicts look an awful lot like the ones found in the Breakin' movies.”

In other words, it paved the way for the current dance movies we love today.

Watch Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Video.