Dance movies are everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure (Center Stage, anyone?), so it’s fitting that a dance documentary would be just as enjoyable. 

First Position

Bess Kargman’s debut follows 5 young dancers on their road to competition at the Youth America Grand Prix, and is a charming and occasionally heartbreaking take on the rigors and the passion in the world of the young competitive dancer. Kargman’s subjects are astute and extremely talented, and her lens captures the behind the scenes of the remarkable physical feat that is ballet. Watch for the gorgeously talented Michaela dePrince, an adopted refugee from Sierra Leone whose dancing is transcendent.


Perhaps you associate Irish step dancing with “Lord Of The Dance”, and as a result of that unfortunate association, you give no thought to this dance form. Fair enough. Jig will change your mind. Following 8 contestants in their quest to achieve fame and glory in the Irish Dancing World Championships, Sue Bourne sheds light on the little-known world of competitive Irish step dancing, and it is fascinating. So much spray tanner! So many giant, curly wigs! It’s like the pageant world crossed with actual physical talent and agility, and it is compelling to watch.

Paris Is Burning

We’ve all seen this, right? No? Great, stop what you’re doing, set aside one hour and eighteen minutes and watch this remarkable and amazing documentary about ball culture in the 80s. Why is this included in this list? Because director Jennie Livingston brought voguing as an art and dance form to the mainstream, inspired Madonna’s dance smash Vogue, and introduced the world to the glory that is Dorian Corey. My words will not do this film justice, so I will simply leave you with this clip of Willi Ninja working it out.

Been Rich All My Life

This doc takes a look at the Silver Belles of Harlem, a dance troupe consisting of ex-chorus girls from the 1930s who have thrown off the mantle of retirement and picked up their dancing shoes once again. Here are some reasons you will enjoy this: the women are spunky little spitfires with personality and verve, and oh, the dancing! Check out the trailer and let these women shuffle-ball-change their way into your heart. 


Wim Wenders presents a beautifully shot performance documentary about renowned modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch and her unique and innovative take on the art form. If you’re a new patron of modern dance, this is a perfect introduction to Pina’s work.