Our favourite ballet-inspired movies


Through ballet, almost anything is achievable with a bit of creative flair and commitment.


Numerous movies have graced the silver screen featuring ballet dancing, often telling the story of a person or group overcoming tremendous odds.


There are too many movies to list, but here are a few of our favourites for you to binge watch this weekend.


Mao’s Last Dancer


Bring the tissues for this one. This story will warm and break your heart in equal measures, telling the tale of Li Cunxin who is ripped from his family in rural China. He is trained in ballet in Beijing from age 11 and this biographical movie tracks his journey from labouring in the fields of China to becoming a world-famous professional dancer.


Billy Elliot


How can you not love Billy Elliot? The story of a coal-miner's son who defies what everyone tells him he should be, to become the one thing he wants to be - a dancer. Watch the movie, but for the real experience, this story is best watched on stage - in London or New York, if you can find the time and money!


Save the Last Dance


A heartwarming story tracking Sara (Julia Stiles) who is trying to find meaning in her life after her mother tragically dies in a car accident. She is a ballet dancer, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) is a hip hop dancer. Together, they find love through a fusion of their styles.


The Turning Point


Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft star in this complex story of a mother forced to abandon her dream of dancing to raise her family.  Deedee (MacLaine) left her vision behind in New York, but when an old friend and fellow ballerina Emma (Bancroft) arrives in town, it stirs up old feelings - complicated when her daughter is asked to join Emma's dance company.


The Red Shoes


We do love a classic. This 1948 movie starring Moira Shearer is torn between her love of dance and love of a man. Her harrowing position is told expertly through dance in a real triumph of early cinema.


Centre Stage


This might not be the best piece of cinema to ever come out, but we love it because of its timing. Ballet was not hugely popular amongst teenagers in the early 2000s but this movie inspired a new generation to take up dance.




It may seem strange to feature a movie about a young woman yearning to escape ballet, but Polina’s journey of love and enlightenment after falling in love with a French dancer is a beautiful story of growth and empowerment.


Black Swan


This is one best watched when the kids are in bed. Natalie Portman delivers an incredible performance as her very sanity begins to crack under the pressure of winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".


Mila Kunis is brilliant as well in a flick that questions what the price is for artistic perfection.