Ten Famous Actors Who Trained In Dance

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Hollywood and dance have a long history. Even superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger took ballet classes to help his posing in Mr Universe competitions. Other actors trained or worked professionally as dancers before transitioning to acting.

Here are some of the biggest movie stars who ventured onstage as dancers first:

Amy Adams

The stunning Oscar Winner cuts a fabulous figure on the red carpet but ballet was her passion before acting. Amy Adams studied classical ballet all through her youth with the hope of dancing professionally. It was after a gig with a dinner theatre company that she caught the acting bug. When you watch her in ‘Enchanted’ or ‘The Muppet Movie’, you’ll notice her training shining through.


We now know Jennifer Lopez as a stunning and ageless songbird and actor but her roots are in dance. After first appearing in a New Kids on the Block music video, ‘Jenny from the Block’ became a house dancer for the sketch show “In Living Color”. At the same time, she worked as a backup dancer for Janet Jackson, appearing in the music video for “That’s the Way Love Goes”.

Charlize Theron

Attending the National School of Arts in Johannesburg and later the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, Charlize Theron had dreams of being a dancer. Sadly for the statuesque beauty, a knee injury meant a change in direction. However, she was always destined to have her name in lights and has gone on to win many awards for her acting prowess.

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz maintains that her ballet studies taught her discipline, something that would be integral to her acting career. The Spanish beauty spent nine years of her youth studying classical ballet and a further three years studying Spanish Ballet. Eventually, her passion turned to acting but lessons learned in dance have stayed with her.

Ansel Elgort

Teen idol Ansel Elgort pursued dancing specifically to be better at it and build his all-round talents. He spent five years at the School of American Ballet to help towards a career in musical theatre. Though the “Baby Driver” star says dance comes third after acting and singing, he stills loves to dance and does so every day.

Christian Bale

Did you know that Batman can dance? In 1992 and 1993 a fresh-faced Bale appeared in “Newsies” and “Swing Kids”. Both films had significant song and dance components and the future Dark Knight trained intensively for ten weeks to perfect his moves.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana studied many types of dance growing up in New Jersey and maintains her passion for ballet first and foremost. In fact, Zaldana’s first big screen role was in the unforgettable 2000 ballet film ‘Centre Stage’.

Channing Tatum

Perhaps less conventional than some of the classically trained here, Channing Tatum is no less of a dancer. Before he hit it big, Tatum worked as a stripper at a local night club. Look closely and you’ll spot him performing as a backup dancer in the music video for “She Bangs” by Ricky Martin.

Tatum has claimed that his role in “Magic Mike” was directly influenced by his time as a stripper and his dance skills have held up to this day!

Christopher Walken

He may be well known as a Hollywood tough guy with villainous roles in “Batman Returns” and “At Close Range” but if you’ve seen the Fatboy Slim music video for “Weapon of Choice” you’ll know that this Hollywood legend can really cut a rug.

Before his on-screen career took off Walken trained in, you guessed it, dance. The Academy Award winner studied at The Washington Dance Academy before shifting to dramatic stage and screen.

Mads Mikkelsen

He terrorised James Bond in “Casino Royale” and terrified us in “Hannibal” but before this Mads Mikkelsen worked for eight years as a professional dancer. After training in gymnastics as a youth, the Danish actor switched to ballet. He is still married to choreographer Hanne Jacobsen, who he met as a young dancer.

While learning to dance may not lead to that as a career, it provides a foundation which many people rely on throughout later life. The above examples from Hollywood display how important this discipline can be for those who want to pursue the spotlight as adults.

Ready to give dance a try?

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