The Dance off is a type of contest, but rather than one anyone can enter, it's a form of duel between two mutual antagonists. For one reason or another, one dancer (often the Dancing Royalty) is convinced their moves are the best, the sweetest, the most unbeatable. But someone else challenges them, to knock them down a few pegs, or for the attention of a Love Interest. The Trope is usually a fun or comedy trope but can venture into Duel to the Death territory if the stakes become high enough. The challenge does not even have to be formally made. Usually the dancers take turns showing off their increasingly elaborate moves until one concedes they have nothing left, or one or both dances themselves into collapsing from exhaustion. While it is possible for one or both parties to be a Dance Battler, that trope is not employed here. The dance-off does not contain combat. Dance Off is a sister trope to Cooking Duel, wherein the duel is usually something silly for silly reasons with silly weapons of choice. Compare Battle of the Bands.
Examples:Film - Animated
- Cats Don't Dance: Naïve Newcomer Danny and Ice Queen Sawyer conduct one of these during an impromptu talent show near Mammoth Studios, complete with Trash Can Band. Tillie's hip toss sends Sawyer reeling into the spotlight, where she takes a few blithe steps and poses. "Not bad," comments Danny, "A little rusty, but hey, who's perfect?" Giving Danny a Death Glare, Sawyer snarls, "I'll give you rusty." The two Funny Animal felines then take turns out-stepping each other, culminating in a pirouette and dip finale ... and an Almost Kiss.
- Earth Girls Are Easy: An unnamed man steps into Deca Dance and sees Zeebo dancing with a pretty black woman. He sneers at Zeebo's moves and tells the girl "why dance with a zero when you can dance with a hero?" The girl is happy to dance with whomever. Zeebo, offended at having been cut in on, attempts to dance with her as well, but the new guy is not having it and challenges him. The new guy pulls out his best moves. Zeebo, who has an incredible mimicry ability because he's an alien, watches for a second, matches him move for move, and then completely mops the floor with him with acrobatic moves the new guy can't match.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Subverted and Played for Laughs. Peter Quill challenges Ronan to a dance off at the film's climax. Ronan, being raised in a Proud Warrior Race, has no idea what Quill is on about, and just looks on with absolute confusion. Even Gamora is flabbergasted. This doesn't stop Quill from continuing to dance until his people can attack.
- The parodic film version of Starsky & Hutch had a disco scene with a dance-off between Ben Stiller as Starsky and Har Mar Superstar.
- In American Wedding, Stifler nearly got into trouble after antagonizing several patrons at a gay bar. To settle off with the dispute, he challenges one of the patrons at a gay bar for a dance-off where he wins and the loser provided him strippers for Jim's bachelor party.
- The premise of the Step Up movies is this trope where the protagonists had to compete in hip-hop dance competitions against several rival dancers. There's usually a dance-off between the protagonist and the love interest.
- The Can-Can was choreographed as this in the film Moulin Rouge!.
- Hunter Street: Anika is practicing to join the school dance team. When her rival Janine walks in on her training session and is unpleasantly dismissive of her skills, Daniel proposes this kind of contest to prove which girl is the better dancer.
- The unforgettable scene in The Office where Dave Brent tries to upstage a colleague who has just executed a perfect dance move, and ends up doing... that dance. The one with lots of awkward clumsy movements and grunting.
- Happens in episode 10 of Riverdale, when Veronica challenges Cheryl to a dance-off for the role of captain of the cheer leading squad. The ensuing contest has nothing to do with cheer leading. The two girls flip their hair, shake their hips, and draw as much attention to their chests and posteriors as possible instead of displaying the kinds of skills a cheer captain would need to possess.
- The Thundermans: When a shallow girl he is crushing on takes a college senior to the dance as her date, Max's confrontational attitude causes the senior to challenge Max to a dance off to prove who is the better man.
- Will & Grace once had Jack try out to be a dancer for Janet Jackson. Janet realizes that she doesn't need another dancer and has him compete with another more seasoned dancer in a dance off. The rival wins, but Janet decides she doesn't need him either.
- The music video for Run–D.M.C. vs Jason Nevins song "It's Like That" features one of these between two groups, one male and one female (Battle of the Sexes)
- The video for South African comedy singer Robbie Wessel's Macarena Mambo. note Played straight - or seemingly so - it takes this trope Up to Eleven for comic effect.
- Commonplace in events or situations where new forms of dancing have become popular. They would spontaneously erupt during the breakdancing craze of the 80s.
- Bayonetta does this with an angel who disguised herself as her and tried to take Cereza away. Bayonetta wins, pissing off the angel enough to attack her and reveal her true form.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition, Knuckles the Echidna's Battle in the Center of the Mind against Dr. Robotnik takes the form of a dance-off.
Knuckles: I won't let you have the unlimited power of the Stamford branch!
Robotnik: There's only one way to settle this!
Super Sonic Dance Attack!
- On Bob's Burgers, Bob and Teddy take a hip-hop dance class and get challenged to a dance-off by the teacher's son. As the dance battle begins, the son hurts himself, so Bob and Teddy win by default before they even make a move.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: The episode "Robot Randy'' features a breakdance contest between Courage and the titular robot for the lives of Eustace and Muriel.
- Dexter's Laboratory: The episode "Dee Dee's Rival" has Dee Dee facing Mandark's sister in ballet at the beginning. At the end of the episode, they compete againt each other while piloting Mini Mechas.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Double Dipper", Mabel faces off against Pacifica in a dance contest, with the winner to be decided by audience vote. Pacifica wins by one vote, and she bribed Old Man McGucket for it.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The episode "Billy Idiot" features a ballet dance off between Billy's dad and Ms. Pollywinkle the Witch Ballet Teacher. It gets parodied quickly as their start switching up dance styles such as Hawaiian Hula and That Russian Squat Dance.
- Looney Tunes: The Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon "Show Biz Bugs" has Daffy attempting to one-up Bugs at everything they try. There's a brief dance-off before Daffy tries to beat Bugs at something new. Bugs gets applause by tapping Shave and a Haircut, while Daffy's more energetic tap routine gets only Chirping Crickets.
- Wander over Yonder: In "The Party Animal". Emperor Awesome challenges Wander to a dance-off because he's offended that anyone can party as hard as he can. While he's taking it deadly seriously, Wander treats it like the most fun ever, and easily wins both the contest and the adoration of the crowd.
- In a short for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Applejack and Rainbow Dash compete in one with their little sister and young fan, respectively. Pretty soon, though, they pretty much cut the younger ones out for a one-on-one competition. Then Apple Bloom and Scootaloo team up to upstage the two of them.
- Tom and Jerry Tales "Flamenco Fiasco" A suave Spaniard requests dancers compete for a golden guitar. Tom, with a girl cat versus Jerry and a girl mouse please him most and he declares a dance off. In his zeal to beat Jerry, Tom destroys the club. The Spaniard ends up beating him with the golden guitar.