Favorite Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Dances

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are one of the most iconic movie duos, making ten films together. Their work together started in 1933’s Flying Down to Rio, where they played supporting players to the film’s main plot. But with just one dance together, the “Carioca”, they captured the audience’s attention, spawning eight more films throughout the 1930s, plus their one and only Technicolor feature, 1949’s The Barkleys of Broadway.

Throughout their film partnership, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced together onscreen more than twenty times, so for this post, I wanted to highlight just some of my favorite dances from the famous pair. I managed to narrow the number down to eleven, and I really didn’t have the heart to leave off one of these to make it an even ten, so that’s just the way it’s going to be here! I also couldn’t think of how to rank these, so this list is in the order in which they appeared in their films. And be sure to let me know which Astaire & Rogers dances are your favorites!

“I’ll Be Hard to Handle” – Roberta (1935)

As you’ll see later in this list, some of my favorite Astaire & Rogers dance numbers are their more playful ones, and none are probably more playful than “I’ll Be Hard to Handle” from Roberta, in which at one point, the two stars communicate with each other through their taps. You can watch the full dance here.

“Isn’t This a Lovely Day?” – Top Hat (1935)

This is one dance where Astaire and Rogers are perfectly matched, practically mirroring each other’s movements. A lot of the time, Ginger’s feet are covered by elegant ballgowns, so it’s especially great to see her footwork keeping up with Fred’s. You can watch the full dance here.

“Cheek to Cheek” – Top Hat (1935)

If I were ranking this list of Astaire & Rogers numbers, “Cheek to Cheek” would likely be in at least my top two or three, especially of the pair’s formal dances. I just love the way Ginger’s feather dress moves in this number, it really adds to the beautiful choreography. You can watch the full dance here.

“I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” – Follow the Fleet (1936)

Another fun number from the duo, as their characters in Follow the Fleet try to stay in sync during a dance rehearsal. I love how they incorporate a bit of slapstick comedy into this number. You can watch the full dance here.

“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” – Follow the Fleet (1936)

“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” is definitely one of the pair’s more iconic dances, with movies Pennies from Heaven and The Shape of Water paying homage to it. It’s one of my favorites of their more emotional dance numbers. You can watch the full dance here.

“Pick Yourself Up” – Swing Time (1936)

Swing Time is arguably the most well-known of the Astaire & Rogers movies today, and it’s likely the first one people watch when diving into their filmography (as it was for me). As such, this is the first dance the two share, and it’s such a wonderful number in which you really see the sparks fly between them. You can watch the full dance here.

“Never Gonna Dance” – Swing Time (1936)

This sequence, for me, is the most mesmerizing of the Astaire & Rogers dances. Not only does it, of course, have some fantastic choreography, but it also has some really great camera movement as it follows the pair, making it an even more captivating number. You can watch the full dance here.

“They All Laughed” – Shall We Dance (1937)

“They All Laughed” is another great, playful number showing how in sync Astaire & Rogers were as a pair. It also features what’s probably my favorite end to any of their dance routines. You can watch the full dance here.

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” – Shall We Dance (1937)

Arguably the most impressive number Astaire & Rogers performed onscreen together, as they tapdanced on roller skates! You can watch the full dance here.

“I Used to Be Color Blind” – Carefree (1938)

Another great romantic dance number, and what makes this one really special is that the whole sequence is slowed down so you can see all the details in their movements. You can watch the full dance here.

“Bouncin’ the Blues” – The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Coming ten years after their last film appearance, “Bouncin’ the Blues” is really the first time the pair is seen reunited in dance onscreen in The Barkleys of Broadway (their technical first dance in the film is obscured by the opening credits). It’s truly a joyous moment seeing Astaire & Rogers together again, showing they still got it. You can watch the full dance here.

I wrote this entry as a part of The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Blogathon, where bloggers are writing about all about the films of the iconic stars. Click the banner below to read more wonderful posts!

9 thoughts on “Favorite Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Dances

  1. Pingback: THE FRED ASTAIRE AND GINGER ROGERS BLOGATHON HAS ARRIVED – In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood.

  2. Loved this list! I don’t know how you narrowed it down because I truly believe every one of their dances is a masterpiece. I think “Never Gonna Dance” might be my absolute fave, but I also really love “Change Partners” from Carefree when Fred hypnotizes Ginger. The ending of “Let’s Face the Music…” thrills me every time, too, so much so that I finally printed a screenshot of it to hang on my wall last year.

    Thanks so much for contributing this amazing post to our blogathon!

    • I saw ‘Carefree’ followed by a retrospective of Fred & Ginger dances, on the BBC this afternoon. ‘Change Partners’ really is something special.

    • I am not sure that “Never Gonna Dance” is the best dance sequence, but when you consider that it actually carries emotional weight (a rare thing in their films) and excellent camera work and editing, it has to be the number one sequence for me by a wide margin.

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  4. I enjoyed Gershwin’s They Can’t Take That Away From Me! Astaire and Rogers danced to this tune first in Shall We Dance and again in The Barkleys of Broadway. One song….two magnificent dance sequences! I love Astaire and Rogers!

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