Misty Copeland in A Ballerina's Tale

The Best Dance Movies Currently On Netflix

Netflix's dance movie game is seriously on point(e) right now! We've compiled a list of the best films to help you narrow down your options for your next dance movie night. Check it out!


A Ballerina's Tale

YASSS Misty Copeland!! The queen is on Netflix, and she's serving up all of the inspiration you need to achieve your dreams. This documentary follows her rise as the first African American principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. It's brilliant. She's brilliant. That's really all there is to it.


High Strung

Fantastic dancing? Wonderful love story? Set in NYC? What more could we ask for? High Strung has a classic dance movie storyline: boy and girl meet, boy and girl fall in love...boy and girl combine hip-hop dancers and classically-trained performers to make dance magic. Follow the love story of Ruby and Johnnie as they prepare for the competition of a lifetime. (And get excited for the sequel!)


Mr. Gaga

Trust us, you're gonna go gaga for this one! The documentary shares footage of rehearsals and performances that celebrate the career of choreographer Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company who's best known for developing the movement language known as Gaga. The dancing is phenomenal, and your eyes will be opened to Naharin's genius.


Desert Dancer

This film dramatizes the true story of Afshin Ghaffarian, an Iranian dancer who strives to live his dream of becoming a professional dancer despite a nation-wide dancing ban. Watch this the next time you have a rough rehearsal day—it's a great reminder to never take your opportunities for granted.


First Position

Just a friendly reminder that this gem is still on Netflix. Whether you're basking in the memories of YAGP's past, or getting pumped for next year's season, it's always the right time to watch this documentary. Follow the stories of six young ballet dancers as they prepare for one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.


Ballet 422

Any production highlighting the New York City Ballet is bound to be spectacular! This documentary goes backstage with Justin Peck as he creates the 422nd original ballet for the company. It's a must watch for all you bunheads!


Lift Me Up

This film tells the story of a young girl who uses dance to endure and overcome the challenges of loss. It's a powerful story—and oh my goodness, star Sarah Frangenberg is one dreamy dancer. Those feet are everything.


Thanks for making our dance movie dreams come true, Netflix! (And fingers and toes crossed that they add Step Up and Center Stage next...)

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Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

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All the Hollywood and Broadway Musical Moments to Look for in “Schmigadoon!”

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of about two dozen dancers got the rare opportunity to work on an upcoming Apple TV+ series—one devoted entirely to celebrating, and spoofing, classic 1940s and '50s musicals from the Great White Way and Hollywood. "Schmigadoon!", which premiered on AppleTV+ July 16, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, who get stuck inside a musical and must find true love in order to leave. The show features a star-studded Broadway cast, including Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski and Dove Cameron, and is chock-full of dancing courtesy of series choreographer, Christopher Gattelli.

"The adrenaline was pretty exciting, being able to create during the pandemic," says Gattelli. "I felt like we were representing all performers at that point. There were so many who wanted to be working during the pandemic, so I really tried to embrace this opportunity for all of them."

Gattelli says it was a dream come true to pay tribute to the dance geniuses that preceded him, like Michael Kidd, Agnes de Mille, Onna White and Jerome Robbins, in his choreography. Each number shows off a "little dusting" of their work.

Dance Spirit spoke with Gattelli about all the triumphs and tribulations of choreographing in a pandemic, and got an inside look at specific homages to look out for.

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Shouldering the Load: What kind of dance bag should dancers use?

Walk into any dance convention, audition or class, and you'll see a vast variety of dance bags lining the walls. But can the style of bag you use (and how you wear it) have an impact on your dancing?

Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

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