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In Flashdance, three separate body doubles were used for lead actress Jennifer Beals during the dance scenes:

Jennifer Beals' dancing in the film was performed by a body double. Her main dance double is the French actress Marine Jahan, while the breakdancing that Alex performs in the audition sequence at the end of the film was doubled by the male dancer Crazy Legs. The shot of Alex diving through the air in slow motion during the audition sequence was performed by Sharon Shapiro, who was a professional gymnast.

Jennifer Beals admits to not ever being a dancer and even turned down appearing on Dancing With the Stars.

Beals turned down an offer to appear on Dancing with the Stars, saying: "I am not a dancer. They asked me and I said 'no.' You could back up a truck to my door filled with cash and I wouldn't do it."

Is there any evidence that filmmakers were intending on using body doubles for all of the dance scenes in the film before the lead female role was cast? If not, why not just cast another actress for the female lead who actually could dance?

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    I would imagine that the number of actresses that can dance is quite big. The number of actresses that can dance to the same standard as the three body doubles is probably extremely small... – Chris Jun 5 '17 at 10:16
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The movie's Wikipedia entry says this regarding her casting:

Three candidates, Jennifer Beals, Demi Moore, and Leslie Wing, were the finalists for the role of Alex Owens. Two different stories exist regarding how Beals was chosen. One states that then-Paramount president Michael Eisner asked women secretaries at the studio to select their favorite after viewing screen tests. The other: the film's scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas claims that Eisner asked "two hundred of the most macho men on the [Paramount] lot, Teamsters and gaffers and grips ... 'I want to know which of these three young women you’d most want to f---'".

Most likely the makers of the movie didn't mind her lack of dancing capabilities, figuring they could "solve" this by using stand-ins. Most important were her looks and (to a lesser degree) her acting capabilities.

According to this website,

Catherine Mary Stewart of "The Last Starfighter" fame auditioned for the role: she is a trained (classically) dancer and singer. It was cheaper to hire Beals and the three others (and not give them credit) then it would be to hire her.

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