Top 5 Musical Theater Dance Performances

Broadway sign

Photo by Kim Roberts

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s nothing better than a night of musical theater. Downtown Pittsburgh has the privilege of being a stop for many of the Broadway national tours, so I’ve had the opportunity to see plenty of incredible shows in the past few years. (By the way, if you are a college student, I strongly advise you to take advantage of student discount tickets! Definitely worth it!)

The great thing about musical theater is that it has everything you could ask for in a live performance. The actors and actresses in these productions are amazing triple-threats who can sing, dance and act like no other. It is an honor just to be in the same building as these people and hear their voices — which is often all I can do from the very last row of the second balcony. (I assume that these people have faces and are, in fact, using appropriate facial expressions throughout the show, but I can’t be sure from where I typically sit!)

Dance in musical theater is so important because it is not only entertaining and fun to watch, but it is done with song, and it furthers the plot. These huge dance numbers have to help tell an understandable story while still being technically strong and visually appealing — no simple task!

So here is a list of what I think are the top 5 dance numbers in musical theater. Please feel free to comment and tell me what you would add to the list!

5: “42nd Street” from 42nd Street

This number is all about tap, tap, tap! 42nd Street is a true classic Broadway with plenty of tap dancing. Seeing huge groups of people dance together is so powerful and enjoyable to watch. Check out this special video of the musical’s opening number below.

4: “Dancing Through Life” from Wicked

The song title says it all. This seven-minute musical number from one of the biggest and most successful Broadway shows of the decade tells a story through song and dance. The Oz-inspired choreography has a mix of jazz, modern, and ballroom elements. Check it out a clip from this dance number below!

3: “My Strongest Suit” from Aida

This sassy song and dance number is all about girl power. Nonstop singing and dancing fills the stage with dresses galore. Songs like this are what make musical theater so great because they make you want to get up and join in. The lyrics and dance moves throughout this piece are entertaining and fun to watch, plus it is a perfect example of character development while furthering the plot. Because. after all, “I would rather wear a barrel than conservative apparel, for a dress has always been my strongest suit!” Take a look at the beginning of this song below!

2: “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes

Anything Goes clearly features tap dancing in this number, and all you have to do is sit back and listen to those taps perfectly in sync. Great big dance numbers are so much fun to watch, and this is a great example of tap’s precision at its finest. Check out the number at the 2011 Tony Awards below.

1: “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins

Speaking of incredible tap numbers, who could forget this classic from Mary Poppins? These chimney sweeps can do some pretty amazing things! This number take dance and makes it fit the characters and tell a story. Mary Poppins herself adds some color to the piece as well. Seeing this number live is truly amazing. It’ll give you goosebumps for sure! Take a look at the video below!

All of these dance numbers from famous Broadway musicals are incredible, and there are many, many more out there! What’s your favorite dance number from a musical? If you have the opportunity to see any of these shows live — do it! It’s a decision you won’t regret.


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