Famous Classic Movie Dance Duo’s

Posted on 27 Dec 00:00


A wide range of dance duos have captured the interest and hearts of viewers all over the world. When it comes to grace and style, different dancers are known for their unique signatures. However, when partnerships are formed through a fusion of two unique styles, the result can be exceptionally spectacular. Here, we examine some memorable classic dance duos that will live on in musical film history. 

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

These two went by the affectionate name of 'Fred & Ginger.' The popularity of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers cannot be overestimated. They exude so much grace and elegance that it is hard not to notice them. These two had some kind of electric magic between them, which is rarely seen among other dancers. The first time that Fred and Ginger came together was in 1933 where they both starred in Flying Down to Rio. They instantly created a spark and went on to appear in many musicals, especially in the 1930's.  While he complimented her with class, she provided him with sex appeal.

The second time that they both starred was in 'Top Hat' ((1935) which only serves to establish the kind of chemistry that Fred and Ginger could produce. In fact, this film was the highest grossing film that year. This was then followed by a string of musicals from the pair. Each time that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers came together, they left the audience amazed and swayed as they got to see that there was actually someone, Ginger Rogers, had the skill to keep up with the sort of energy that Fred produced. It is quoted that she did everything Fred did only 'backwards and in heels'.

Astaire-Rogers movies eventually began to rake in less profit towards the end of the 1930s, probably due to the fact that the audience had gotten too used to seeing them together. With the turn of the 1940s, both Fred and ginger finally ended their partnership. Although different columnists made attempts to cook up stories about rivalries between them, this was only in vain as they both continued to speak warmly of each other. Fred Astaire actually noted that he was the first partner that Ginger Rogers had, and her style and talent continued to improve. Her influence was so profound that she made others who danced with Fred look odd. Here are 10 top-rated Astaire-Rogers movies –

  1. Top Hat (1935)
  2. Swing Time (1936)
  3. Carefree (1938)
  4. Shall We Dance (1937)
  5. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  6. Follow the Fleet (1936)
  7. The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
  8. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
  9. Flying Down to Rio (1933)
  10. Roberta (1935)


Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse

Eugene Curran Kelly (1912 – 1996), was a man of many talents and was a dancer, actor, choreographer, as well as, producer, director, and singer. One of his gifts was his energy and high level of athleticism when dancing. He also was renowned for his good looks, which made his characters more likable whenever he was on screen.

Enter Cyd Charisse who actually had to battle polio at an early age before going on to study ballet, Named Tula Ellice Charisse (1922 – 2008). Cyd Charisse starred as an actress and dancer. She went on to create a very powerful dance partnership with Gene Kelly.

One of such power-packed partnerships is the classic iconic upbeat musical that Singin' in the Rain (1952). This musical also reminds us of a time in the history of Hollywood during the late 1920s when talkies were beginning to take over.

This musical would also be the first time that Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (1925 - 2003) would work together. O'Connor's on-stage appearances began since infancy. His movie career began at the very early age of 12. With so many film credits to his name, he went on to work with Kelly who happened to be older than him by 13 years and arrived Hollywood quite later than O’Connor. At the time that they came together, Gene Kelly had starred in 18 films from 1942 to 1951.

Kelly and Cyd:

Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse both did their dance scenes choreography in a way that it would be hard to notice that he wasn't as tall as her. In order to prevent viewers from spotting the difference in height, the routines were arranged by Kelly in a way that would ensure that they never stood upright each time they found themselves next to each other. They did this by bending towards each other or by bending away from each other.

One outstanding quality of Gene Kelly was that he always pushed others so that they would reach their limits. Many dancers ended up with not just bruised egos but actual physical bruises as they tried to match his demands. It is revealed by Cyd Charisse that her husband was aware of all the times when she danced with Kelly because he would see her injuries.


Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn

Reginald Carrie Harrison (1908 – 1990), popularly called Rex Harrison, was an on-screen and stage actor, officially beginning his stage career in 1924.

Also, Audrey Kathleen Ruston, renamed Audrey Hepburn (1929 -1933) was an British actress and humanitarian. She's popularly renowned as an icon in the industries of film and fashion. At the time when Hollywood was in its Golden Age, Audrey was actually in the limelight. The American Film Institute ranks her as the third greatest when it comes to the Hollywood golden age's female screen legends.

This dance duo is widely known for the American musical, My Fair Lady, in 1964. The inspiration for this musical film was adapted from the Broadway musical (starring Rex Harrison (Henry Higgins) and Julie Andrews (Eliza Doolittle) of the same name, and both became very huge successes. Rex and Audrey both displayed spectacular chemistry in this movie, and it went on to win eight academy awards and was also awarded Best Picture. One scene which will never be forgotten in this movie is the Embassy Hall waltz scene.

The silver screen adaptation of this movie was undertaken by Warner Bros. Rex Harrison was called in to reprise his Broadway role of Henry Higgins. However, Julie Andrews was not invited. The reason was that she was seen as less of a household name. A substitute was brought in by Jack Warner in the form of Audrey Hepburn. At first, the not so fantastic pipes of Audrey Hepburn created some sort of challenges, but as soon as she was handed Eliza’s role, a vocal coach tirelessly helped her to work on her songs. However, George Cukor made the decision that her singing would be dubbed over by Marni Nixon.


These are some of the most renowned classic dance duos of all time. Even though they are now mostly on out of print movies, these duos have captured the hearts of viewers with their unique dance styles and personality. They are masterpieces of the best movie directors in their time. The good news, however, is that these hard to find DVD’s are still available to serious movie buffs who want to watch their favorite dance duos from the comfort of their home.

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