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What is it about ballet that captures our imagination? There's something exhilarating about dancers pushing the bounds of physical perfection in order to create ethereal forms of beauty and light.

The dramatic juxtaposition of the demanding, relentless discipline needed to create graceful artistic illusions seems a natural fit for the big screen, and over the years ballet has, in fact, enjoyed many charmed and storied turns on the celluloid stage.

In honor of the newly restored edition of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger's 1948 dance masterpiece 'The Red Shoes' and the release of Frederick Wiseman's acclaimed documentary 'La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet,' we present our own ballet movie hall of fame. Because while the following films may not all be cinematic masterworks, they all succeed in raising the barre with their love of the dance. What is it about ballet that captures our imagination? There's something exhilarating about dancers pushing the bounds of physical perfection in order to create ethereal forms of beauty and light.

The dramatic juxtaposition of the demanding, relentless discipline needed to create graceful artistic illusions seems a natural fit for the big screen, and over the years ballet has, in fact, enjoyed many charmed and storied turns on the celluloid stage.

In honor of the newly restored edition of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger's 1948 dance masterpiece 'The Red Shoes' and the release of Frederick Wiseman's acclaimed documentary 'La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet,' we present our own ballet movie hall of fame. Because while the following films may not all be cinematic masterworks, they all succeed in raising the barre with their love of the dance..

The Turning Point'The Turning Point'
The story of two childhood friends and ballet dancers who opted for two different life paths: Emma (Anne Bancroft) chose success and became a prima ballerina, while Deedee (Shirley MacLaine) bowed out of the limelight to raise a family. When they are reunited years later, both are forced to consider what might have happened with the road not taken. Herbert Ross' moving 1977 film also featured a young Leslie Browne as Deedee's daughter Emilia, an aspiring ballerina herself who ventures to New York and is seduced by fellow dancer Yuri (Mikhail Baryshnikov, in his U.S. feature film debut). The movie went on to earn 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, acting nods for Bancroft, MacLaine, Brown and Baryshnikov and a directing nod for Ross (though it failed to take home any awards).

Billy Elliot'Billy Elliot'
All together now: "Billy!" Stephen Daldry's 2000 film is about an 11-year-old boy in a hardscrabble coal-mining northern England town who decides he'd rather take ballet than boxing lessons. It's a heartwarming coming-of-age tale of persevering against the odds, punctuated by dance sequences of pure unbridled emotion. Starring Jamie Bell as the titular Billy and Julie Walters as the local teacher who encourages him to audition for a spot in the Royal Ballet academy, 'Billy Elliot' earned three Academy Awards nominations for direction, original screenplay and Walters as supporting actress. Presently, Billy twirls on in a hit musical spin-off of the same name.

Center Stage'Center Stage'
Perhaps the quintessential adolescent ballet flick, the 2000 film followed a group of young American Ballet Academy students as they tackled bulimia, bad feet and romantic entanglements during a year of rigorous training. Sure the plot's a little obvious, and the dialogue can be wooden, but veteran stage director Nicholas Hytner smartly cast real-life dancers Ethan Steifel, Sascha Radesky and Amanda Schull in key roles, and took care to place the dances themselves front and center. The visual feast that resulted -- featuring traditional numbers like Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes" and Sir Kenneth McMillian's "Romeo and Juliet," as well as Susan Stroman's contemporary pieces -- succeeded in satisfying die-hard ballet fans and inspiring countless wannabes to "just dance it."

Fame'Fame'
Remember! Remember! Remember! The movie that started the teen musical craze, Alan Parker's gritty 1980 film focused on students of all disciplines at New York City's High School of the Performing Arts, including prima ballerina Hilary Van Doren (played by Antonia Franceschi, who went on to dance with the New York City Ballet) as the wealthy dance student who finds herself in trouble when she gets involved with the campus bad boy.

The Company'The Company'
Robert Altman's 2003 film didn't follow a plot inasmuch as it gave a fascinating slice-of-life glimpse at the inner workings of a Chicago-based dance troupe, as led by its haughtily fierce artistic director (played with gusto by Malcolm McDowell). Classically trained dancer Neve Campbell starred as one of the movie's principals, but the rest of the troupe was largely filled with members of the Joffrey Ballet, all but ensuring the quality of the movie's dances. The duet performed outside during a rainstorm in particular is transcendent ...

Save the Last Dance'Save the Last Dance'
A sheltered aspiring ballet dancer, Sara (Julia Stiles) is forced to move in with her estranged father in Chicago and gets schooled in hip-hop when she meets and falls for b-boy Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas). The 2001 teen movie touched upon inner-city race and class issues and melded ballet with hip-hop long before 'So You Think You Can Dance' entered the national zeitgeist.

Step Up'Step Up'
A 2006 hip-hop/ballet hybrid, in the same vein as 'Save the Last Dance.' This time it's the guy, Tyler (Channing Tatum, in his breakout role), rough and tumble from the streets, who stumbles upon prissy hot ballerina Nora (Jenna Dewan) in a performing arts high school and decides to sweep her off her feet -- literally and figuratively. After the requisite initial clash, the two learn to bridge their differences, share moves and partner up in the process. Added bonus: Rachel Griffiths as the stern but fair principal.

White Nights'White Nights'
Mikhail Baryshnikov plays (surprise, surprise!) a star ballet dancer and defected Russian who is forced to escape when his plane unexpectedly lands in the Soviet Union. Taylor Hackford's 1985 film operates mostly as a thriller, but also features some great footage of Baryshnikov and costar Gregory Hines hoofing up a storm. Come for the dancing, stay for the soundtrack's adult contemporary standards "Say You, Say Me" from Lionel Richie and Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin's "Separate Lives."

Dancers'Dancers'
Another Herbert Ross film featuring real-life ballet dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne, this one's set in Italy, where a young dancer (Julie Kent) becomes infatuated with her older artistic director (Baryshnikov) while filming a production of 'Giselle.' A drama within a drama develops -- their story echoes the themes of the famous ballet they're performing -- and real-life members of the American Ballet Theater rounded out the 1987 movie's cast of players.

La Mort du Cygne'La Mort Du Cygne'
The 1938 dance classic, directed by Jean Benoit-Lévy, about a young Paris Opera Ballet student who plots to ensure that her idol won't be replaced by a Russian ballerina. Starring real-life dancers Yvette Chauviere, Janine Charrat and Mia Slavenska, the film both exposes the mindset of a young ballet company and offers a glimpse at what the Paris Ballet was like before World War II.

Flashdance'Flashdance'
Okay, so Adrian Lyne's '80s classic -- about a Pittsburgh welder with dreams of becoming a professional ballerina -- may have done more for bar dancing than barre dancing. But who can forget that feeling of maniacal joy during the audition piece where Alex (a leg-warmered Jennifer Beals) leapt past the stodgy panel of conservatory judges' conventions and promptly melted their ice-cold hearts? What a feeling!