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Top 10 Latin Dance Scenes in Movies


If you're in the mood to move your hips to salsa or samba, or just want an evening's entertainment watching talented dancers boogey to hot horns, here's a list of films to watch. Either they will prove to be an inspiration flaming those dormant dance dreams, or just a pleasant night at the movies.

1. Dance With Me

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If salsa brings a smile to your face, then this is the film for you. There's more salsa per minute in this film than in any other Hollywood film I know of. Starring Puerto Rican singer Chayanne and Vanessa Williams, it features cameos by DLG, Albita and Makina Loka in the dance club number.

2. Shall We Dance?

I first saw the Japanese version of this film and couldn't stop laughing, although the dancing was enjoyable to watch. If you aren't ready for a movie in Japanese (subtitled in English), the Richard Gere / Jennifer Lopez version came out a few years later. I still think the original is better, but the tango scene, done to the music of the GoTan Project's "Santa Maria (del buen ayre)", makes the remake worth watching.

Shall We Dance? (Original Japanese Version)

3. Black Orpheus

Can't afford a trip to Rio? Turn on the 1959 film Black Orpheus and you bring the samba sounds of Carnaval straight into your living room.

This classic movie, the story of Orpheus and Euridice, doesn't have just one dance scene in it, the entire movie is a moving, rhythmic Brazilian carnival. The music is by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonifa.

4. Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom has always been one of my very favorites, taking place in the world of Australian ballroom competition. An early Baz Luhrmann film (1992), it has a wonderful dance scene to Doris Day's "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" as well as an over-the-top Paso Doble - a typical Luhrmann extravaganza.

5. Mad Hot Ballroom

Initially, this film didn't look like it was going to be anything more than another soppy, "kids are so great" number. But it was really amazing, with the New York school children getting so excited about ballroom dancing and their surprising adult energy as they learn to do the 'cuban moves' to the rumba. But what really stands out in the film is their contagious excitement whenever they got a chance to do the merengue.

6. Take The Lead

How can any movie with Antonio Banderas dancing be anything but wonderful? I'm not sure how, but it definitely is not a wonderful movie. But the movie is on the list for two reasons. First, it's the story of Pierre Dulaine, the man who started the dance program featured in Mad Hot Ballroom. But mostly its because I could watch Banderas do the tango for hours.

7. Lambada

I have to admit that as a film, this one stinks. Lambada was made in the early 90's when word got out that the Brazilian government had banned the dance (not sure how you ban a dance). But if you're curious to see a dance that was forbidden in a country where scantily dressed Brazilians samba the night away, this is the place to see it.

8. The Forbidden Dance Is Lambada

This film is better than the previous one, but not by much. Still, lots of lambada!

9. Dirty Dancing

I admit it. Watching Baby learn to do the mambo never gets old for me. But skip the sequel. Bad plot, bad acting, bad dancing.

10. The Mark of Zorro

You might be wondering why the 1940 Tyrone Power / Linda Darnell film The Mark of Zorro is on this list. It's because the dance scene between the two stars is one of my very favorites, though I'm not sure whether it's because of the wonderful 'Californio' dance number, or the witty and really funny dialogue during the dance. It's worth it for either of these reasons.

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