7 Extremely Inspiring Dance Documentaries Every Dance Lover Should Watch At Least Once!

Posted on 1 September, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Image Source: Oscar Challenge

One of the most intriguing aspects of any dance performance is what goes on behind the scenes. How did they pull off that gravity-defying move? For how long have they been practicing that? What does it take really, to be a dancer worth your salt, apart from copious amounts of passion? These seven stellar dance documentaries answer all those questions and then some more.


Brace yourselves, you will cry and then start dancing like there’s no tomorrow, or do both at the same time.


Ballet, Sweat and Tears

Becoming a ballet dancer is no cakewalk. It’s a road marred with sweat, tears and blood (literally). And in spite of all that struggle, only a rare few get a chance to shine in the frontlines, while the rest are pushed to the back and out of the limelight. This Russian documentary shows you straight up just how many sacrifices go in from parents as well as students to make it as ballet dancers. It also gives you a rare glimpse into how grueling it is mentally and physically to learn ballet. Ballet dancers, you’ll want to kiss your shoes after watching this.


First Position

This is a documentary that chronicles the journey and struggles of six young dancers as they prepare to compete for the Youth America Grand Prix – one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. At one point in the film, the dance teacher says, “Kids who are pursuing ballet as a career give up their childhood.” And this just puts into perspective the sheer amount of sacrifices a dancer has to make to achieve their dreams in a world where dancing as a full-time career is hardly considered ideal. This is a film that will stay with you and make you dive headfirst into your craft with renewed vigor.


Gotta Dance

Gotta Dance is the story of the NETSational Seniors – a hip hop team comprising of senior citizens, aiming to make it as the New Jersey Nets Basketball team. What makes this group even special is that they are all attempting this for the first time, and are adamantly refusing to be written off. This is a heart-warming, inspiring film that’s a treat for dancers as well as those who wish they could dance. Trust us, every time you feel like giving up, the NETSational Seniors will remind you why you shouldn’t. As the tagline says, “Age doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese”.


Paris is Burning

Paris is Burning is what we’d call an experience – a trip to an era most of us are longing to visit – more than a film. This documentary takes you through the drag culture, the ball culture, voguing and the very people who lend New York of the eighties its memorable warmth and energy! It’s bold, it’s stunning, it’s poignant, and above all it tells you mesmerizing stories of real people.



Pina is a German 3D documentary about noted contemporary choreography Pina Bausch. Although unfortunately, Pina passed away during the shooting of the documentary, her students came forward and performed some of her best known pieces, creating in the process one of the most moving tributes any maestro could ask for. Pina Bausch was a leading pioneer of Dance Theatre style of performing art, and this documentary includes some of her best pieces and most insightful interviews. Serious dancers, take note!


Bouncing Cats

Northern Uganda is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for a child. In the middle of such a hostile environment, in 2006, an AIDS orphan by the name of Ambrahmz Tekya created the Break Dance Project Uganda. This is his story, and the story of a project that changed lives in one of the unlikeliest places on earth. Bouncing Cats is the hair-raising, heart-warming, passion-igniting journey of one man’s attempt to give the children of Uganda a better life through break dancing.


Dzi Croquettes

We’ve seen enough films about dance sparking a “revolution”, but when it comes to the real deal – the kind of revolution that sets the tone for generations to come, Dzi Croquettes is the real deal. The documentary revolves around The Dzi Croquettes – a Brazilian theatre group that challenged the then ruling Brazilian government and its violent dictatorship. But this is not your run of the mill, angst-ridden revolutionary documentary; it’s loaded with irony, with and humour – the very weapons that The Dzi Croquettes used to revolutionize the gay movement and changing the dance and theatre language for entire generations.


Which is your favourite dance documentary – the one that changed your life and fuelled you to keep dancing? Tell us and help us make this list bigger and better!

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