12 of the best musical songs to dance to
A musical’s longevity or excitement around it often comes from a stellar dance number, capturing the imagination of audiences who watch the show, as well as inspiring future talent. From simplistic movement to technical steps, we take a look at musicals from the West End and Broadway with the best songs to dance to that have had incredible choreography performed to the songs.
Best dance songs from musicals
Step In Time – Mary Poppins
Mary, Bert and the Banks children went over the rooftops in “Step in Time”, a beloved Mary Poppins tune in a soundtrack including “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. With slow-motion movements and characters seemingly being able to walk on the ceiling, the production won the best choreography award at the 2005 Olivier Awards. Mary Poppins will return to the Prince Edward Theatre in 2019 and we can’t wait to see what magic the choreographers conjure up!
The Bottle Dance – Fiddler on the Roof
Appearing as a traditional Jewish folk dance in the musical, it’s anything but. The Bottle Dance came about by Jerome Robbins, who decided to create the movement based upon seeing men dancing with bottles on their heads pretending to be drunk. Standing out from all other films, don’t miss your chance to see the Bottle Dance performed by the talented cast in Fiddler on the Roof, soon to open at the Playhouse Theatre.
Dancing Through Life – Wicked
While it may not feature the most difficult choreography, “Dancing Through Life” is a dazzling number in Wicked, as Boq and Nessarose grow closer together while Elphaba is gifted a black “witch hat” by Glinda. This musical number is one of the longest in the production, yet features the entire company and is led by Fiyero. Adam Garcia originated the role of Fiyero in the West End production, which has gone on to win audience choice awards in recent years, showing how the musical is still popular with audiences today!
Turn It Off – The Book of Mormon
Elder McKinley leads the other elders serving in Uganda in a show-stopping performance of “Turn It Off” in The Book of Mormon, where everything should be as easy to control as turning a light switch on and off. As well as hilarious lyrics written by Matt Parker and Trey Stone, “Turn It Off” ends with a tap routine performed by the Mormons where their usual get up is transformed into something that’s a bit more showbiz. Casey Nicholaw won best theatre choreographer at the 2014 Olivier Awards and the show continues to entertain audiences at the Prince of Wales Theatre today.
42nd Street – 42nd Street
42nd Street is packed with tap routines throughout the show, with memorable dance routines including “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Getting Out of Town”. Yet, it is the final routine to “42nd Street” that showcases the talents of Peggy Sawyer as she transforms from chorus girl to a Broadway starlet. Revived in the West End in 2017, the production was nominated for best choreography. 42nd Street played its final performance on 5th January, but you can still relive the memories with this video.
Hot Honey Rag – Chicago
Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart put aside their differences and come together as a formidable Vaudeville duo in “Hot Honey Rag”. The pair showcase their dancing ability and synchronicity in choreography performed side by side. Bob Fosse choreographed Chicago, later nominated for best choreography when the production first opened on Broadway. Chicago ran at the Phoenix Theatre to celebrate the musical’s 21st anniversary, which closed on 5th January 2019.
One – A Chorus Line
Whether it’s the synchronicity of the entire company of A Chorus Line or the precise movements throughout the song, “One” has been the song for simple, yet effective movement. Last performed at the London Palladium in 2013, A Chorus Line is hailed as one of the leading dance musicals. With songs including “I Hope I Get It” and “Nothing”, the story focuses on dancers who are looking to make it to the chorus line. Yet, it is the high kicks and deceptively difficult dance moves in “One” that make this routine stand out.
Our Favourite Son – The Will Rogers Follies
Winning best musical at the 1991 Tony Awards, The Will Rogers Follies has never been performed in the West End, however “Our Favorite Son” features iconic choreography complete with tambourine hats. The musical follows the life of Will Rogers, as he forms his own group of dancers similar to the Ziegfeld Follies. Yet, set in the Great Depression, it is hard for him to become the biggest star of the 1930s. Tommy Tune received accolades at the Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards for his choreography of the production, with “Our Favourite Son” being a stand out song from the show.
An American In Paris – An American In Paris
While An American in Paris is bursting with exquisite dance routines throughout the production, the majesty of the dancing in the title song cannot be rivalled. This 11 minute dance is a masterclass in ballet, as the lead characters Jerry and Lise perform a heartwarming pas de deux which catapults Lise to stardom. After premiering on Broadway in 2015, An American in Paris opened in the West End in 2017, closing on January 6, 2018.
Anything Goes – Anything Goes
Last revived in the West End from 2013 to 2014, Anything Goes blends authentic sounds from the 1930s with tap, ballet and jazz into a smooth musical. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney travels on board the SS American from New York to London, entertaining the passengers with her musical performances. However, the stage is lit up when the entire cast come together to perform “Anything Goes”, a rousing dance number full of fun. Anything Goes was last revived on Broadway in 2011, starring Sutton Foster in the lead role and went on to win three Tony Awards including best choreography.
Dance at the Gym – West Side Story
There are so many dance numbers in West Side Story that have gone to become musical theatre favourites. From “America” to “Cool” and “Somewhere”, each song conveys dramatic storytelling through dance at its finest. However, the Dance at the Gym brings the Sharks and the Jets together in a frenzied dance battle where Tony and Maria meet for the first time. Raising pulses of audience members thanks to the high octane movement on stage, “Dance at the Gym” was performed at the 2009 Tony Awards, with the production receiving a nomination for best revival of a musical.
Seize The Day – Newsies
Audiences gasped each time the cast of Newsies took to the stage, with cast members performing flips, tricks and leaps throughout the entire show. Yet, the sublime dancing in “Seize the Day” transformed the song into a stand out piece of musical theatre, especially when it was performed at the 2012 Tony Awards. Newspaper boy Jack dreams of moving to Santa Fe, but the newsies strike against the newspapers and end up on the front pages themselves, changing the lives of the newspaper boys. With music by Alan Menken and choreography by Christopher Gattelli, the show won two Tony Awards including best choreography.
Inspired to see a West End show full of dancing? We’ve put a guide together of dance shows and ballets that you have to see!