The Skeleton Dance is a 1929 Silly Symphonies cartoon produced and directed by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks. In the film, a group of skeletons dance and make music around a spooky graveyard. It was the first entry in the Silly Symphonies series.
While many claim that the musical score was adapted from the Saint-Saëns composition Danse Macabre, Carl Stalling explains in a 1969 interview that it was actually a foxtrot set in a minor key. Stalling suggested the idea for a series of musical one-shot cartoons to Disney at a gag meeting in 1929. Stalling also adapts Edvard Grieg's "The March of the Trolls" for part of the skeleton dance music.
The four skeletons dance in various ways, and they also play makeshift musical instruments. In one scene, all four skeletons hold hands and dance in a circle, akin to schoolchildren dancing Ring a Ring O'Roses. In another scene, a skeleton pulls the thigh bones off another and begins to play the thighless skeleton like a xylophone. A skeleton also manages to play a cat like a violin, using a bow and the cat's tail as the strings.
It is notable for being the first animated cartoon to use non post-sync sound. Animation from this short was later reused in the Mickey Mouse short "Haunted House" in which Mickey, having taken shelter in a Haunted House, is forced to play music for the dancing skeletons. The Skeleton Dance was also referenced to in the episode Hill Billy of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, where Grim, having been turned into a 1930's era cartoon character, leads several other skeletons in dance, and even mimics the actions.
The cartoon was created in black and white on standard 1.33:1 35mm film.
In 1994 it was voted #18 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field