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8 Best Ballet Movies of All Time

Tanaya Navalkar
Ballet is a beautiful dance form, which people from all over the world have been enjoying for hundreds of years now. What can be a more entertaining and useful medium than watch a movie to see and know more about ballet? Here's a list of the best ballet movies of all time.

Ballet Facts

► The amount of energy needed to perform one ballet dance is equal to playing two football matches or running 18 miles!
► Most of the ballerinas wear out 2 - 3 pairs of pointe shoes in one week!
Ballet has brought a different dimension of dance into our lives. It first originated in the courts of Italian Renaissance in the 15th century. It later spread as a concert dance form in France and Russia.
Since then, it has spread widely into all parts of the world. It has a big influence on other dance styles and genres as well. Most of the ballet terms are derived from French.

Ballet was created under Louis XIV. It is said that he himself was an avid dancer in his youth, and performed ballet.
He founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy) in 1661, which had the establishing standards and created certified dance instructors. The first ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, arose in Académie Royale de Musique. Hence, it shows the predominance of French influence on ballet terminology.
Films on ballet have brought a different world of dance altogether into our perspective. We see graceful dancers on the stage, whereas in reality, they go through a lot of pain and hardships.
The movies portray the backstage rivalry, tension, and pain that the ballet dancers go through while pushing their bodies to the limit. Below is a collection of the most popular movies on ballet that you shouldn't miss out on.

8 Best Ballet Movies Ever

The Red Shoes

Year: 1948
Directed By: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
It is a gorgeous movie starring Moira Shearer. The movie is about a ballet dancer who is forced to choose between a career as a lead ballerina and the love of her life. It has a number of remarkable dance sequences and a story that keeps you engrossed till the end. The movie is inspired from the fairy tale 'The Red Shoes' by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Turning Point

Year: 1977
Directed By: Herbert Ross

The Turning Point is a drama film based on the world of ballet in New York City. This movie has the most realistic ballet and showcases good acting by the cast. It is about a ballet teacher, whose daughter becomes a professional dancer, reviving memories of her decision to end her career for the family.
It stars Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Leslie Brown as daughter, and Mikhail Baryshnikov as the dancer who is in a relationship with the daughter. This movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.

Center Stage

Year: 2000
Directed By: Nicholas Hytner

This movie stars Zoe Saldana and Amanda Schull. It is about a group of 12 teenagers from various backgrounds who get into the prestigious American Ballet Academy in New York.
It shows how each of one them deals with the stress of the training and trying to get ahead of each other. It is one of the best movies if you want to explore the behind-the-scenes world of ballet! It has very well portrayed the hard work and commitment that each and every ballet dancer has to put in to their career in dance.

Billy Elliot

Year: 2000
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

It is a drama film set in North East England during the coal miner's strike in the 1980s. It stars Jamie Bell as the 11-year-old Billy, who is an aspiring dancer.
The movie shows how he deals with the criticism from family and friends for being a male ballet dancer, and who do not understand his love for ballet. He expresses his anger through dance. This movie is a pure genius and very well made.

The Company

Year: 2003
Directed By: Robert Altman

This movie is about the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago starring Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, and James Franco. It is an insider view of a ballet company, and is a kind of documentary with other dancers playing themselves.
It includes every emotion, detail, and struggle of a ballet dancer, and the toll that is taken on their body while training. It has some fantastic dance numbers. If you like modern ballet, then this is the movie you must watch!


Year: 2006
Directed By: Bertrand Normand

This documentary film is made beautifully. It shows the rehearsals and everyday training of five ballerinas of Russia who are at different stages of their dancing career.
It offers a wide mosaic of the classical ballet, beautiful costumes, flawless dancing, and die-hard practice sessions. This movie cannot be missed if you want to know more about ballet.

Mao's Last Dancer

Year: 2009
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

It is a recent movie based on the book with the same name. Unlike other movies, this movie is based on a true story. It is about a Chinese boy, Li Cunxin, who is taken away from his family as he is chosen to train as a dancer.
He is made to go through some rigorous training, which transforms him into an exceptional ballet dancer. It also shows the effects of his first love because of which he defects after a rushed marriage. He is forced to choose between his freedom and family, and stays back with the ballet company.

Black Swan

Year: 2010
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

This movie is a psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. It is about a ballerina, Nina (played by Natalie Portman) who is chosen to play the innocent and fragile White Swan as well as the dark, Black Swan.
She is pushed to explore the dark side in her in order to play the Black Swan. Meanwhile, the company welcomes Lily (Mila Kunis) who is also her rival and poses a threat for the role of the Swan Queen.
Nina pushes herself to her physical and mental limits, which takes a toll on her mind. She deviates from reality and descends into a living nightmare. A must-watch, stunning, and epic tale!
So, these were some of the best ballet movies of all time. If you haven't seen any from the list earlier, then do make it a point to watch all of them.