Five Favorite Films

Misty Copeland's Five Favorite Dance Films

The American Ballet Theatre principal says Black Swan, The Red Shoes, and Dirty Dancing set the barre for dance flicks.

by | October 30, 2018 | Comments

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
(Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

Those who’ve not had the chance to see groundbreaking ballerina Misty Copeland dance in person will be treated to the next best thing this month, as the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) principal makes her big-screen non-documentary debut in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Copeland, the first African American dancer to be made a principal in the ABT’s almost 80-year history, plays the “ballerina princess” in the film, and is said to dazzle in one of the movie’s centerpiece moments.

Nutcracker feels like an appropriate introduction to Copeland for movie audiences. The ballerina has been performing in Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker Ballet, which the film adapts, since she began dancing in her early teens. Her first time performing the ballet, she played the young princess Clara, who is played by McKenzie Foy in the new film; Copeland’s been performing the ballet most of her career, most recently last year in an ABT production choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Her incredible rise in the world of ballet is charted in the Fresh documentary, A Ballerina’s Tale.  

Ahead of the release of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Copeland shared with Rotten Tomatoes her favorite films set in the world of dance.


The Red Shoes (1948) 96%

I felt like it was the first dance film that accurately captured the essence of the relationships amongst the dancers, composer, director, and choreographer. I’ve seen it in the theater many times during special showings. It never gets old for me.

The Turning Point (1977) 60%

It’s everything! This film also captures an exciting time in American classical ballet. It’s like it’s frozen in time, this magical period in the late ’70s and early ’80s when ballet dancers were rock stars. I loved it even more later in life because, once I moved to New York, I ended up living with Isabel Brown, whose life the story it’s loosely based on. Her daughter, Leslie, stars in the movie opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Dirty Dancing (1987) 71%

Whooo! Where to start? I’ve watched it so many times. Until that movie, which I saw before even my teen years, I hadn’t seen a film that showed such raw passion connected with dance. It was sexy and showed that dance had the ability to translate into so many expressions.

The Company (2003) 72%

It was like watching a documentary but it wasn’t. There’s a scene with Lar Lubovitch, who I ended up working with as a professional, where he’s choreographing a piece on Neve Campbell. It seemed they just let the cameras roll; it was so real. It was like being in the studio and watching them rehearse. It was a window into the life of a dancer.

Black Swan (2010) 85%

I feel like Black Swan was the ultimate drama. In ballet, the stories are not realistic. The stories are larger than life. It was like seeing a ballet come to life on the big screen through the extremes of the characters in the film.


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms opens in theaters everywhere Friday November 2. 

Tag Cloud

zombies crime drama war Trophy Talk 2016 Britbox dceu what to watch IFC Films OWN Mary Poppins Returns Toys Drama jamie lee curtis Lucasfilm sitcom true crime Sci-Fi Musical Sundance CMT Character Guide NYCC MTV cinemax medical drama Spectrum Originals Esquire ABC binge comic TIFF Winners unscripted Warner Bros. X-Men Grammys MSNBC Lifetime facebook Red Carpet TBS Certified Fresh Watching Series cults based on movie Universal CBS Starz National Geographic American Society of Cinematographers Oscars MCU Super Bowl Mindy Kaling Chilling Adventures of Sabrina politics E3 singing competition IFC GoT DC streaming service finale Cartoon Network ABC Family 21st Century Fox FX CBS All Access Set visit Interview Fox News Ghostbusters BBC Video Games Horror Box Office thriller Apple Comics on TV Photos DC Universe supernatural Biopics Comedy streaming Nickelodeon anthology Sundance Now Year in Review Logo Epix Tumblr Spring TV Marvel travel composers Black Mirror Columbia Pictures Calendar discovery Freeform TLC YA CW Seed Opinion Acorn TV TCA Shondaland Dark Horse Comics historical drama Comedy Central YouTube Red transformers Rock police drama President PaleyFest Country casting Paramount Network Nominations science fiction TCM cooking Musicals SXSW mutant serial killer Netflix ITV Nat Geo DirecTV Hulu 2018 Comic Book VICE Mary poppins crime Spike Valentine's Day talk show robots Paramount 007 adventure Bravo award winner Martial Arts harry potter Extras Winter TV Shudder period drama blaxploitation Pirates Schedule Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tomatazos zombie Creative Arts Emmys TCA 2017 El Rey Western Kids & Family spider-man Awards Tour Fall TV Pixar crime thriller golden globes 2019 YouTube Premium DGA TNT 2015 Amazon Prime Sony Pictures BET biography SDCC justice league 20th Century Fox ratings GIFs Superheroe Rom-Com The CW FOX Action diversity Reality Mary Tyler Moore Thanksgiving Brie Larson E! doctor who Awards comiccon Pop boxoffice television Election Marathons Adult Swim WGN vampires mockumentary social media Christmas romance miniseries New York Comic Con political drama Food Network HBO Disney PBS 2017 45 Holidays Star Trek FXX CNN DC Comics 24 frames cops The Arrangement History Sneak Peek Countdown LGBTQ Podcast APB Music Emmys hist Superheroes Crackle crossover First Look Animation cats Star Wars psycho RT History aliens Ovation sequel spy thriller technology Teen Premiere Dates NBC Ellie Kemper Syfy Writers Guild of America Anna Paquin Cosplay Disney Channel TruTV See It Skip It dc Fantasy ESPN Summer Captain marvel Lionsgate USA Network BBC America adaptation Masterpiece Trivia Infographic Reality Competition Song of Ice and Fire San Diego Comic-Con Amazon USA VH1 TV SundanceTV TV Land A&E Trailer GLAAD festivals Walt Disney Pictures sports Quiz Showtime Mystery Rocky AMC Polls and Games dramedy docudrama anime Best and Worst green book