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Blog: Most Iconic Dance Numbers in Musicals

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

I'm a sucker for a massive dance number! And if there are tap shoes...I'm like a kid in a candy store - just so excited! To celebrate the amazing dances seen in musicals, we thought we would make a list of some of the most iconic dance numbers for you to enjoy. Save this blog so that you can watch them all as you have the time - I promise, it will be worth it!!

These numbers are presented in no particular order. We thought that rather than ranking them, we would instead celebrate the achievement of all the choreographers and dancers that created these memorable moments and changed the face, and the beat, of musical theatre history. This is less of a countdown, more of a dance party - enjoy!

One - A Chorus Line

Choreographed by Michael Bennett and Bob Avian

This entire musical is iconic but the opening and finale numbers are undoubtably two of the best known and most beloved dance numbers ever to hit the Broadway stage! A 5,6,7,8...

Shaking the Blues Away - Holiday Inn

Choreographer - Denis Jones

I mean, they are tapping AND skipping...what?! How is this possible?! I loved this show so much when I saw it on Broadway in 2017

The Audition - 42nd Street

Choreographer - Randy Skinner

From that sneaky peak, to the giant ensemble, this dance number is just so exciting!

Anything Goes - Anything Goes

Choreographer - Michael Smuin

I told you I love a tap number! I especially love a tap number with a whole lot of sailors and Sutton Foster leading the pack - what a way to close out a show.

All That Jazz - Chicago

Choreographer - Bob Fosse

Nothing says iconic like Fosse, isolations, jazz hands and Velma Kelly.

Step in Time - Mary Poppins

Choreographers - Matthew Bourne and Richard Eyre

Skip ahead a bit in this video to get the real BANG of this dance number (more tap shoes 😂). If you have the time to watch the whole video, it's great to hear more about the song at the beginning too. I LOVED this number in the film and of course, in the musical too. Mary Poppins is just wonderful but this is the highlight.

Seize the Day - Newsies

Choreographer - Christoper Gattelli

One of the most exciting numbers on Broadway in some time - so many flips! Such athleticism - really amazing!

New York, New York - On The Town

Choreographer - Joshua Bergasse

Love this video! I saw this production of On the Town when it was on Broadway in 2014/2015 and I thought it was a fantastic show, mainly because of the stellar dancing. This just puts that great dance all around NYC - so enjoyable!

The Bottle Dance - Fiddler on the Roof

Choreographer - Jerome Robbins

A true classic! Known as one of the hardest dances on Broadway, to perform this requires great balance and unity amongst the ensemble. When done well, boy, does it amaze!

The Lambeth Walk - Me and My Girl

Choreographer - Gillian Gregory

This one rarely finds itself on iconic dance lists but personally, I love it and think it is totally under-acknowledged. So stylised and purposeful, yet fun and endearing. A must see and must know.

Jellicle Ball - Cats

Choreographer - Gillian Lynne

Though I'd be lying if I said that I was a fan of Cats, this is an extremely impressive dance number that I would be remise to exclude from the list. It is a showstopper!

The Waiter's Gallop - Hello Dolly

Choreographer - Warren Carlyle

Ok, this is another WOW moment - I love this dance from Hello Dolly! So much fun but also so impressive as the technique and stamina required to pull this dance off is extreme. Very impressive.

You Can't Stop the Beat - Hairspray

Choreographer - Jerry Mitchell

Probably my favourite finale from any show ever and a total banger of a dance number. The whole show though is full of great songs to dance to!

Dance at the Gym - West Side Story

Choreographer - Jerome Robbins

Colourful, exciting, technical and extremely stylised, The Dance at the Gym is a favourite from West Side Story. I went with the film footage here but of course, this number is performed in the stage version of the show as well.

Shall We Dance - The King and I

Choreographer - Jerome Robbins

Continuing with film footage for just a moment (dear internet, please provide Kelli O'Hara footage specifically of this number), Shall We Dance is a true classic, iconic dance number. As there is no King that will ever be like Yul Brenner was, I felt it was a good time to use footage of him performing this famous dance.

Pas De Deux - An American in Paris

Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon after Gene Kelly

American in Paris is a beautiful, ballet-centric musical that pays homage to the film by the same name starring Gene Kelly. Having seen both the Broadway production and film, I will say that there is no ballet sequence quite like the film's 17 minute one that Kelly pulls off, however, the musical is filled with lovely ballet numbers just like this one.

Whipped into Shape - Legally Blonde

Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell

Ok, I'm back to the skipping ropes because it just impresses me to no end. How do you jump and skip? How do you jump and dance? How do you even jump and breathe?

Big Spender - Sweet Charity

Choreographer - Bob Fosse

Classic Fosse at his finest - there is a reason that this number is on every iconic dance number list it seems that has ever been written.

A Musical - Something Rotten

Choreographer: Casey Nicholaw

One of my personal favourite musicals and the number that takes your breath away. There are some great dance parts in this and, if you're a musical theatre fan (which I will assume you are if you made it to this part of the list), you're going to love this one.

I think we will need to update this list soon...LOOK AT THIS TRAILER...Talk about some dance show stoppers!

IN THE HEIGHTS! I am so beyond excited for this movie to be made - one of my favourite musicals ever and this film looks incredible beyond words.

Do you have some more suggestions? Write them down in the comments below!


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