Miranda Garrison assisted choreographer Kenny Ortega in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze; she acted in the film, playing the part of Vivian Pressman. For the 1988 film Salsa, she acted the part of Luna, the owner of a Los Angeles salsa club. In this film, she had an opportunity to dance numbers from her own work as the choreographer. In the 1990 film The Forbidden Dance about the Lambada from Brazil, she again appeared as an actress-dancer, performing in the role of Mickey. In 1996, she assisted choreographer Vincent Paterson in the film Evita, with singer Madonna, based on the 1968 musical.
Earlier in her career she had danced in the high-profile 1980 film Xanadu, starring the singer Olivia Newton-John. After Xanadu Garrison was a frequent collaborator with choreographer and later director Kenny Ortega.
In 1997 Garrison choreographed Selena, the biographical film about Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the tragic Tejano singing star. She was also the choreographer for the 2004 film Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, set in late-1950s Cuba, and for The Skeleton Key, released in 2005. An on-line 'Filmography' for Miranda Garrison lists 48 entries for film (34) and tv (14), twelve as an actor and/or a dancer 1979-2005, and thirty-six for choreographic work 1987-2009.
In 2001, she directed the Golden Eagle awards ceremony. In 2007 and 2008, Garrison was a judge in the British reality TV competition, Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life.
About the criteria she used in choosing the dancers for a film:
"The most important things to me were heart, individual dance styles, great personal expression, joy of spirit, and the love of dance.
Garrison spoke on video about her core experience of dancing:
"I mean really, dance in its inception was around a campfire, wasn't it? It was praying, wasn't it? Didn't everybody in a community, in a culture, dance around the campfire-in its most primitive form? I've never really lost touch with that. And, yeah. We go out, we make money with it, we tweak it, we do all that with it. But essentially, the essential, the essence, essence, essence... it's about self-expression, about one's self, to one's community, to one's world, and ultimately to God, I think, or Goddess, what ever your concept is on that, the Supreme Being. So, within that, the essence of dance is really powerful. And you can have that with the guy off the street as you can with Baryshnikov."