20 Best Ballet Movies

The aesthetic pleasure of the graceful lightness of dance performed by weightless dancers and dancers is achieved through their hard work, iron self-control and complete self-denial. To understand what ballet is, to look into the souls of its adepts and behind the scenes of this mind-blowing action helps good movies.

We offer you a small review of wonderful movies about ballet, which will become your guide to the world of high inspiration of stage dance as presented by the best directors and actors of our time. We hope that these movies will serve not only as entertainment, but also inspire you to explore this wonderful classical art more deeply.

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot
  • IMDB Rating – 7.7
  • Genre: Drama, music
  • Production: UK, France / 2000
  • Budget: $5,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $109,280,263
  • Director: Stephen Daldry
  • Starring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jean Haywood, Jamie Draven, Stuart Wells, Mike Elliott, Billy Fane, Nicola Blackwell, Carol McGuigan.

Opens our list of the best ballet movie for kids, which will be nice to watch with the whole family. This movie has some amazing dance scenes and many touching moments. It is the story of growing up as an 11-year-old Billy Elliot living in the fictional English mining town of Everington in 1984.

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All the men in Elliot’s family are hereditary miners, but the boy himself does not aspire to go underground, but has a burning attraction to ballroom dancing. He ignited a passion for the art after going to the boxing section, accidentally fell into a ballet class. His unique talent is noticed by Mrs. Wilkinson, and took the boy as a pupil. But Billy will have to defend his love of classical dance in front of the whole world.

The movie received 3 Oscar nominations and young actor Jamie Bell, chosen from 2,000 applicants and playing Billy, became the youngest BAFTA winner.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Dancing ghosts

Dancing ghosts
  • IMDB Rating – 7.1
  • Genre: Drama
  • Production: Russia / 1992
  • Director: Yuri Korotkov, Efim Reznikov
  • Starring: Anna Ponomareva, Alexei Yasulovich, Nina Sianko, Galina Chaika, Irina Metlitskaya, Elena Poryvkina, Ekaterina Berezina, Julia Zaitseva, Radu Poklitaru, Kubat Boskunbaev.

Let’s continue with a rather old, but incredibly uplifting Russian movie that became a cult favorite and earned its status as the best ballet movie of the era. Thanks to this movie, the country’s ballet studios gained incredible popularity.

With a stunning musical cocktail of three ballets by Tchaikovsky and music by Tariverdiev, the drama and grandeur of the ballet backstage unfolds before the audience. Strict discipline, strict rules and simmering emotions hidden under the cold mask of the stage image.

The action takes place in a St. Petersburg choreographic school, where several girls are preparing their graduation performance after 8 years of study, taking extreme measures to avoid exclusion from the world of high art. Yulia Azarova, who is to dance the lead role in “Giselle”, is struck by her first love, putting the girl before an eternal choice – her dream or her personal life.

All the girls who played graduates of the school were already professional ballerinas, including Anna Ponomareva, who played Julia.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Black Swan

Black Swan
  • IMDB Rating – 8.0
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Production: USA / 2010
  • Budget: $13,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $329,398,046
  • Director: Darren Aronofsky
  • Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Sebastian Stan, Toby Hemingway, Benjamin Milpierre, Xenia Solo, Christina Anapau

A terrific horror movie from unique director Darren Aronofsky is a dark movie about ballet, obsession and rivalry. In addition to the gorgeous cinematography, the movie has many beautiful ballet dance scenes.

The plot centers on the young dancer Nina, played in the movie by Natalie Portman, who took away generally all the movie awards for this role. When the prima donna leaves the stage, the director is looking for a new girl to play the role of the black swan in Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet. He has two candidates, Nina and Lily, who begin to compete for the lead role. The immense pressure, uncertainty and endless discipline destroy Nina’s psyche, driving her insane.

Incidentally, there are obvious similarities between Aronofsky’s movie and the gorgeous 1998 Japanese anime “True Sadness” (“Perfect Blue”).

20 Best Ballet Movies

Center Stage

Center Stage
  • IMDB Rating – 6.7
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama, Music
  • Production: USA / 2000
  • Budget: $29,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $26,385,941
  • Director: Nicholas Hytner
  • Starring: Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy, Ethan Stiefel, Christine Dunham, Stephen Stout, Marianne Plunkett, Laura Hicks.

In this youth drama film, the debut for actress Zoe Saldana, 12 young dancers enroll at the American Ballet Academy, an affiliated school of a famous ballet company. At the end of the year, only six of them will be chosen to join the main company, while the rest will have to find another place in life.

The plot centers on three girls – Maureen, Jodi and Eva (Saldana), their relationship with elderly director and choreographer Jonathan Reeves, and ambitious and talented young dancer Cooper Nielson. All of the students work hard to achieve their goals, compete and strive to come out on top in the ruthless world of competitive ballet.

The choreography for the film was choreographed by theater director Susan Stroman, winning a prestigious award for her brilliant work.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Mao’s Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer
  • IMDB Rating – 7.3
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama, Biography, Music
  • Production: Australia / 2009
  • Worldwide Box Office: $22,269,123
  • Director: Bruce Beresford
  • Starring: Cao Chi, Bruce Greenwood, Penn Hackforth-Jones, Christopher Kirby, Susie Steen, Madeleine Easto, Aden Yang, Wen Bin Huang, Shu Guang Liang, Ye Wang.

A dance biopic from Australian director Bruce Beresford about the life and career of the famous Chinese-Australian ballet dancer Li Cunxin, based on his autobiographical book. The movie is set during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, known for its brutality.

Mao’s wife’s advisors, the dancer Jiang Qing, took Li away from his family at the age of 11, transported him to Beijing and sent him to study at a ballet academy where students practiced 16 hours a day. At first, the boy did not do well until he met teacher Xiao, who influenced Li’s life and replaced his father. After studying for seven years, Qunxin was selected to study in Houston and escaped to the West, later moving to Australia.

This movie occupies the 12th position in the list of the highest-grossing Australian films of all time. By the way, Li Qunxin himself is now the artistic director of the Queensland Ballet and has received Australia’s highest award for his invaluable contribution to the arts.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Le roi danse

Le roi danse
  • IMDB Rating – 6.9
  • Genre: Drama, History, Music
  • Production: France, Germany, Belgium / 2000
  • Budget: $21,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $3,203
  • Director: Gerard Corbiot
  • Starring: Benoit Majimel, Boris Terral, Cheki Cario, Colette Emmanuelle, Cecile Bois, Claire Keim, Johan Leisen, Idwig Stephan, Emile Tarding, Jacques François.

This French historical-biographical drama about the life of musician Jean Baptiste Lully begins in the mid-17th century. The young “Sun King,” Louis XIV, has a passion for dance, thanks in large part to Lully’s magnificent music for the monarch’s glorifying “Ballet de la Nuit.”

After the death of Mazarini in 1661, Louis changes the entire state policy, contrary to the wishes of his mother and representatives of the clergy, deciding to turn France into a country that shines with its opera and ballet. The king himself takes to the stage, performing ballet pas in the beautiful productions created by Lully and Molière.

In 2001, the movie was nominated for 3 Césars (French Oscars).

20 Best Ballet Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 5.9
  • Genre: Drama
  • Production: Ukraine / 2006
  • Worldwide Box Office: $296,512
  • Director: Oksana Bayrak
  • Starring: Dmitry Kharatyan, Eric Roberts, Nastasia Zurkalova, Anastasia Mes’kova, Viktor Stepanov, Rimma Zyubina, Oleg Maslennikov, Anastasia Serdyuk, Vladimir Goryansky, Ekaterina Kachan.

A touching film by Ukrainian director Oksana Bayrak dedicated to the Chernobyl tragedy. The story centers on a 12-year-old girl, Aurora Nedelina, an orphan from an orphanage who dreams of becoming a great ballerina. She trains every day, fervently supported by Taras Savchenko, who has replaced her father.

On the day of the tragedy, the girl receives a huge dose of radiation, and soon she is taken to an American clinic, where Aurora has a chance of survival. There she meets her idol – world ballet star Nikolai Astakhov.

The movie was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign film category.

20 Best Ballet Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 6.8
  • Genre: Drama
  • Production: Russia / 2016
  • Budget: ₽ 372,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $4,029,886
  • Director: Valery Todorovsky
  • Starring: Alisa Freindlikh, Valentina Telichkina, Alexander Domogorov, Nicolas Le Riche, Margarita Simonova, Ekaterina Samuilina, Anna Isaeva, Anastasia Plotnikova, Anastasia Volynskaya, Anna Tarasenko

A spectacular Russian drama with Alisa Freindlikh about the ascent of a young talent to the Bolshoi Theater stage. The main character of the story is Yulia Olshanskaya (played by young ballerina Margarita Simonova), a girl from a dysfunctional family in a provincial town.

The girl uses her unique dancing talent to steal, distracting passers-by while pickpockets clean out their wallets. The girl is noticed by Vladimir Pototsky (Domogarov), a former ballet dancer, who gives her a chance and takes her away with his dream of ballet. Yulia faces a difficult path to fame, filled with work and disappointments.

According to Simonova, this is a movie about the artist’s worst adversary – time, which is too fleeting in ballet.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Ballet Shoes

Ballet Shoes
  • IMDB Rating – 6.6
  • Genre: Musical, Drama, Family
  • Production: UK / 2007
  • Director: Sandra Goldbacher
  • Starring: Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige, Lucy Boynton, Harriet Walter, Gemma Jones, Emilia Fox, Richard Griffiths, Victoria Wood, Mark Warren, Lucy Kohu.

A cute family drama with actress Emma Watson (she plays Paulina), her first role outside of “Harry Potter.” We meet Sylvia Browne, who moves into the home of her paleontologist uncle Matthew after the death of her parents.

Soon, by coincidence, the elderly scientist becomes the guardian of three more girls before disappearing without a trace on yet another trip. Sylvia, in order to keep her newfound family afloat and give the girls a good education, enrolls them in a children’s academy of stage dance.

The movie is based on Noelle Stratfield’s book of the same title.

20 Best Ballet Movies

My dad is Baryshnikov

My dad is Baryshnikov
  • IMDB Rating – 6.8
  • Genre: Drama, comedy
  • Production: Russia / 2011
  • Worldwide Box Office: $68,878
  • Director: Dmitry Povolotsky, Mark Other
  • Starring: Dmitry Vyskubenko, Anna Mikhalkova, Vladimir Kapustin, Marina Politsemako, Ilya Rutberg, Ludmila Titova, Anatoly Kot, Sergey Sosnovsky, Kseniya Surkova, Lilia Yamada

High art and family problems intertwine in Dmitry Povolotsky’s Russian drama. Borya Fishkin is a student of the capital’s choreographic school who knows nothing about his father. All attempts to find out from the young frivolous mother, who was the reason for his birth, stumble on a placid lie about a secret affair with a spy who is always on a mission.

In time, however, Borja, seriously concerned with the search for his father, begins to guess that ballet master Baryshnikov, who escaped from the USSR to Canada, is quite suitable for this important role. Borja is a perfect copy of him, and he has dancing talents, and his mother was personally acquainted with the celebrity.

This movie is the directorial debut of Dmitry Povolotsky, who, incidentally, was himself a student at the Moscow Choreographic School.

20 Best Ballet Movies

The White Crow

The White Crow
  • IMDB Rating – 6.6
  • Genre: Drama, Biography
  • Production: UK, France, Serbia / 2019
  • Worldwide Box Office: $7,622,595
  • Director: Rafe Fiennes
  • Starring: Oleg Ivenko, Rafe Fiennes, Louis Hoffman, Adele Exarchopoulos, Sergei Polunin, Olivier Rabourdin, Rafael Personas, Chulpan Khamatova, Zack Avery, Mar Sodup

A biographical drama about the famous ballet dancer Nureyev, created by British actor Rafe Fiennes, who took the director’s chair. Events begin in 1961, when Rudolf Nureyev begins a foreign tour with the Leningrad theater company.

In parallel, the artist recalls his childhood and youth, his mother’s story of how he was born in a train carriage, his impoverished war childhood filled with hardship, his student years in post-war Leningrad.

The movie was based on a biography of Nureyev written by British Julie Kavanagh and earned a prestigious international prize in Tokyo.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Giselle’s mania

Giselle's mania
  • IMDB Rating – 6.3
  • Genre: Drama, melodrama
  • Production: Russia / 1995
  • Director: Alexei Uchitel
  • Starring: Galina Tyunina, Mikhail Kozakov, Evgeny Sidikhin, Sergei Vinogradov, Andrei Smirnov, Ivan Okhlobystin, Alexander Khvan, Tatiana Moskvina, Alexei German, Anastasia Melnikova.

A Russian movie directed by Uchitel, an admirer of Russian ballet. This time it is a psychological drama about one of the greatest ballerinas of the early 20th century, Olga Spesivtseva. By the way, the director famously and extremely carelessly disposed of facts from the life of the prima, turning them into a movie “based on motives”, but no more.

Contemporaries nicknamed the dancer “Giselle”, because it was this role wrote the ballerina in history and made her great. Surrounded by fans, admiration and undying fame, Olga gradually began to go mad, obsessed with ballet and realizing that her time was running out.

The performer of the main role Galina Tyunina received several Russian prizes for her work.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Balle gyoseupso

Balle gyoseupso
  • IMDB Rating – 6.3
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama
  • Production: Korea South / 2004
  • Budget: $2,000,000
  • Director: Byun Young-ju
  • Starring: Yoon Gae-san, Kim Min-jung, To Ji-won, He Ju-won, Lee Joon-gi, Kim Dong-wook, Kang Do-han, Glenna Park, Sung-sop Lee, Han-hee Jo.

A charming dance South Korean drama created by director Byun Young-ju from his own script. It is the story of high school friends who one day find themselves in the same ballet school.

Min-jae rarely sees his pilot father, struggles to study and has a crush on his housemate Soo-jin, but hesitates to approach her. And the girl is desperately bored and dreams of running away from home. And when they start attending ballet class together (quite by accident!), Min and Soo begin to become friends and meet many of the quirky characters from their school.

In English, this movie was released under the title “Flying Boys”.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise
  • IMDB Rating – 5.9
  • Genre: Drama
  • Production: USA / 2021
  • Director: Sarah Adina
  • Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Diane Silvers, Caroline Goodall, Kristin Froseth, Helen Cardona, Nassim Sy Ahmed, Roger Barclay, Stav Strashko, Jeremy Wheeler, Ava Lombi

This movie is the story of everyday life of students from a dormitory at a ballet academy in Paris. The main character is Kate Sanders, who begins her studies with a conflict with her boyfriend Ollie, who soon commits suicide.

Maureen, Ollie’s sister, blames Kate for this, and everything is aggravated by the fact that both girls have to live in the same room. Meanwhile, all the students in training are competing for the grand prize of a contract with a ballet company. Marin challenges Kate to a dance duel, after which the girls become best friends.

This movie is a film adaptation of the novel by A. К. Small’s novel Bright Burning Stars.

20 Best Ballet Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 6.8
  • Genre: Drama, detective
  • Production: France, Belgium, Great Britain, Japan / 2004
  • Director: Lucille Hadzihalilovich
  • Starring: Zoë Auclair, Lia Bridarolli, Béranger Aubrugge, Marion Cotillard, Hélène de Foujrol, Olga Peytavi-Muller, Alisson Lalieu, Ana Palomo-Diaz, Astrid Omm, Josephine Van Wambecke.

A strange, surreal drama, created by the joint efforts of Japan, France, Britain and Belgium, tells about an amazing educational institution where very young girls are brought up, learning sciences, good manners and ballet dancing, taught by Mademoiselle Eva (Marion Cotillard).

But the most amazing thing here is that all the girls arrive at this school in coffins and never see the outside world, and at the same time around there is not a single living soul of the male sex. The girls dream of growing up and leaving this marvelous place to conquer the world. But is it possible?

The movie is based on the 1903 novel Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls by German playwright Frank Wedekind.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Neneh Superstar

Neneh Superstar
  • IMDB Rating – 5.7
  • Genre: Drama, comedy
  • Production: France / 2022
  • Worldwide Box Office: $431,710
  • Director: Ramsay Ben Slimane
  • Starring: Oumi Bruni Garrel, Maiwenn, Aissa Maiga, Steve Tienchot, Cédric Kahn, Alexander Steiger, Richard Zammel, Nathalie Richard

Another movie made in the birthplace of ballet, France. It is a very sweet story of a young dancer going towards her dream. So, a new and talented girl Nine enters the ballet boarding school at the Paris Opera. If she manages to prove her giftedness, she will get a chance to study in a prestigious dance institution.

But literally from the first minutes everything becomes complicated for the girl. She is the black child of marginalized parents, whose family has no idea of high art. In addition, the girl has a defiant character and bad upbringing. But step by step, the young dancer overcomes all the obstacles, which generously dot her road to her dream.

Starring in the title role, 14-year-old Umi Bruni Garrel is a French actress and the adopted daughter of famous actor Louis Garrel. This movie is her screen debut.

20 Best Ballet Movies

The Company

The Company
  • IMDB Rating – 6.2
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama, Music
  • Production: USA, Germany, UK / 2003
  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $6,401,690
  • Director: Robert Altman
  • Starring: Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, James Franco, Barbara E. Robertson, William Dick, Susie Cusack, Marilyn Dodds Frank, John Lordan, Marian Mayberry, Roderick Peeples.

The most simple yet complex story of a team creating a work of art. It would seem to be a take-it-or-leave-it dance, but taming a company of vain, free-thinking, nervous and visionary creative people and getting them to work together is almost impossible. Each dancer’s personal life is a separate story, influencing every pas.

But every day they come together to work to the point of exhaustion under the guidance of the demanding Alberto Antonelli to produce an eccentric ballet. Separate jealousies and new conflicts are caused by Alberto’s infatuation with the promising Loretta Ryan, who gets the lead role in the upcoming ballet.

Neve Campbell, star of the franchise “Scream”, who played the lead role here, 4 months plowed like a cursed, honing ballet dances for the movie.

20 Best Ballet Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 5.3
  • Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
  • Production: Russia / 2017
  • Budget: $25,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $9,365,944
  • Director: Alexei Uchitel
  • Starring: Michalina Olshanska, Lars Eidinger, Louise Wolfram, Danila Kozlovsky, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Sergey Garmash, Evgeny Mironov, Grigory Dobrygin, Galina Tyunina, Vitaly Kovalenko

A free fantasy by the influential Russian director Alexei Uchitel about the relationship between Nicholas II and the French ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya. Around the film there was a heated controversy, several scandals because of too free treatment of history, at the same time there were attempts to ban the film because of the irreverent portrayal of the canonized Tsar.

The events unfold in several stages, beginning with the coronation, to which Kshesinskaya sneaks in, and continuing in flashbacks about the acquaintance and stormy romance between the Tsesarevich and the freedom-loving Matilda.

By the way, Matilda was played by Polish actress Michalina Olshanska. At first, the role was offered to Keira Knightley, who liked the script very much, but she had to refuse because she was pregnant.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow
  • IMDB Rating – 6.6
  • Genre: Action, Thriller, Drama
  • Production: USA / 2018
  • Budget: $69,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $151,572,634
  • Director: Francis Lawrence
  • Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Kieran Hyndes, Joely Richardson, Bill Camp, Jeremy Irons, Thekla Rutten

A rather hilarious cranberry-filled spy movie starring Jennifer Lawrence as the central character, Bolshoi prima ballerina Veronika Egorova. One day during a dance, a partner falls awkwardly on Veronika and breaks her leg, cutting off her prima career.

Soon Veronika learns from her uncle, an officer of the Foreign Intelligence Service, that this accident was arranged by Sonya, a rival, and she seeks revenge by agreeing to be trained in the school of “sparrows”, agents of influence and manipulation. And soon she faces her first mission, where she agrees to be recruited by the CIA.

In 2020, this picture made it to the top of Maxim magazine’s list of “The Most Delusional Movies About Russia”.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Love’s loneliness

Love's loneliness
  • IMDB Rating – 7.0
  • Genre: Drama, melodrama
  • Production: Russia / 2005
  • Director: Victor Merezhko
  • Starring: Valery Barinov, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Elena Melnikova, Stanislav Bondarenko, Maria Guzeyeva, Pavel Melenchuk, Daria Sagalova, Pavel Akhaltsev, Ekaterina Madalinskaya, Vladimir Kostin

Russian melodrama starring Svetlana Khodchenkova and Valery Barinov. This is a story of passion and betrayal, and the ballet, rather, serves as a light entourage for the main conflict.

Fyodor Prado, an influential Moscow lawyer, decides to finance a ballet company consisting of young artists. His wife Irina, who is many years younger than his spouse, actively participates in his patronage. And then one day Irina has an affair with one of the dancers of the group, and then blackmailers appear in her life, who demand money for keeping silent about her infidelity.

The plot is based on Stefan Zweig’s short story “Fear”.

20 Best Ballet Movies

Keiji ballerino

Keiji ballerino
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Production: Japan / 2016
  • Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
  • Starring: Yuto Nakajima, Masahiro Takashima, Rena Matsui, Jun Hasegawa, Shinya Owada, Toshiki Ayata, Shinichiro Uchida, Takanori Takeyama, Tatta Sugimoto, Hiromi Nagasaku

Let’s wrap up our list with dessert, a humorous eccentric Japanese movie. In front of you is the pilot episode of a supposed TV series that remained unrealized. But this nearly hour-long detective-ballet story is the perfect entertainment for a free evening.

Since childhood, the main character Usushima Kurumi’s mother instilled in him a love of ballet, and the boy had no doubts about his dancing future. But one day there was an event that turned his life upside down and forced him to become a police detective. Using his dancing skills and remembering past lives through hypnosis, this black swan, performing breezes, croises and arabesques, shocking the enemy with unexpected glissades, fights, saves lives and unravels an almost mystical case from 40 years ago.

By the way, this movie is very reminiscent of the funny serial anime “Princess Tutu”. There the heroine, dressed in a ballet tutu, saved everyone by performing dizzying dance pas.

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Анна Румянцева

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