Eighteen minutes of dance greatness: James Brown, T.A.M.I Show (Oct 1964)

Dance · Music

Fifty years ago! James Brown’s ballistic performance at the T.A.M.I. Show, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, October 28 and 29, 1964.

Because even standing still, James Brown is one of the greatest-ever American  dancers.

  • High-Heeled Sneakers
  • Prisoner of Love
  • Please Please Please
  • Night Train

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From Bernardo to “Bebo’s Girl”: George Chakiris tribute at MoMA 4

Dance · featured · Film

Balmy Indian-summer weather added pleasure to the late-October opening weekend of “To Save and Project,” The Museum of Modern Art‘s annual film-preservation festival whose tasty programming included a tribute to Oscar-winning actor-dancer-singer George Chakiris. In “George Chakiris: A Life in Film,” a wide-ranging interview that could not begin to encapsulate his decades of activity in film, theater, nightclub and television, Chakiris shared crackerjack memories and his kind and modest personality.

Vintage television variety-show clips from the Garry Moore Show, Dinah Shore Show and Andy Williams Show peppered the conversation. The event also featured clips of the song-and-dance man in “Night and Day” and “Begin the Beguine” in “CBS ‘Ford Star Jubilee: You’re the Top, A Salute to Cole Porter,’” which aired October 6, 1956. Ramping up the emotion was Chakiris partnering Anna Maria Alberghetti in a full-throttled rendition of “Stranger in Paradise” from a 1967 television broadcast of “Kismet.”

Following the interview came a proud moment for Chakiris: a screening of a movie made in Italy fifty years ago, “La Ragazza di Bube” (“Bebo’s Girl” 1964), a beautiful film in which he co-stars with Claudia Cardinale. The ‘romantic neo-realist’ movie is well known in Europe (the French consider it a classic), but has virtually gone missing in the U.S. Till now. MoMA has effectively resurfaced “Bebo.” Bravo!

MoMA adjunct curator Dave Kehr arranged the visit and screening along with MoMA film curator Josh Siegel who for twelve years has overseen the festival. Sophie Cavoulacos provided the visit with able logistical support.

In a beautiful mash-up of dance genres, attending the interview was the artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Janet Eilber, herself a great dancer, although retired. Can Eilber’s presence be interpreted as a squelched desire to kick it as Anita in “West Side Story”? She and Chakiris look well suited!

Photo credit:  Will Ragozzino/scottruddevents.com, courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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“Bebo’s Girl,” at fifty, to screen at MoMA’s “To Save and Project”

featured · Film

bebo's girl-2
Fifty years ago, in November 1964, a beautiful and moody Italian film, La Ragazza di Bube (Bebo’s Girl) opened in theaters. Based on an acclaimed novel by Carlo Cassola, the film recounts a love triangle in an anguished and entangled setting: Italy’s post World War II struggle to come to grips with its fascist experiment and its leftist aspirations. Director Luigi Comencini’s striking location shooting captures the ragged landscape of a war-torn nation.

The movie motors serenely on sensitive leading-role performances by Claudia Cardinale and George Chakiris, both beautiful young actors bringing soulful sadness to their pairing. “Bebo” will screen on October 27 at 7:15 p.m. at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of the “To Save and Project” annual film preservation festival. The screening will be preceded by George Chakiris: A Life in Film, an in-person interview with the film’s star. arts·meme‘s Debra Levine will conduct the interview.

Writes MoMA Adjunct Curator Dave Kehr about “Bebo”:

At the end of World War II, shallow, self-centered Mara (Cardinale) is the prettiest girl in her small Italian village; Bebo (Chakiris) is a Communist partisan who is finding it difficult to adjust to the dull banalities of life in peacetime. When Mara’s father, a passionate Communist, declares that his daughter will marry the returning hero, her reactions range from joy to bitter resentment, as director Comencini—one of the greats of Italian comedy, here deftly turning his hand to drama—traces her development from a flighty adolescent into a mature woman. Though dubbed in Italian, Chakiris creates a stirring portrayal though posture and movement as the dazzling but deeply flawed Bebo, who seems to lose his heroic dimensions as Mara’s grow. Preserved print from the Cineteca Nazionale, Rome; courtesy Cristaldi Films. In Italian; English subtitles. 106 min.

Poster image courtesy Dave Kehr, MoMA

Bebo’s Girl | Museum of Modern Art  To Save & Project| Oct 27, 7:15 pm

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Irina Baronova, baby ballerina no more

Dance · featured
In 1932 George Balanchine happened upon a ballet protégée, Irina Baronova, when she was a 12-year-old pupil of Olga Preobrajenska, the Russian ballerina teaching in exile in Paris. The visionary choreographer, who throughout his career would repeatedly mentor and package outstanding female dance talent, bundled Baronova with two equally precocious ballet cohorts, Tamara Toumanova (12) ...

George Chakiris in double NYC honor: first MoMA, then Juilliard

Dance · Film
In fitting recognition of a great dancer whose searing, Oscar-winning performance as “Bernardo” in “West Side Story” was filmed on NYC’s Upper West Side terrain where the Juilliard School now stands, George Chakiris will visit the renowned conservatory for an interview and dance conversation. Location shooting of the playground sequences that open “West Side Story” ...

The essence of tap is a rhapsody

Dance · Music
Among the more quixotic ventures one might try, maintaining a tap dance company ranks somewhere between reviving the celluloid collar and loading mercury with a pitchfork. The degree of difficulty—in attracting and keeping good dancers, choreographing for their collective and individual talents, finding sympathetic musicians, securing a worthy facility, mounting shows, and obtaining funding—keeps growing. ...

Fresh air on a very hot night: No 1 Art House @ Highways

Dance · Reviews
It was a steamy, sultry, sweltering and wonderful Saturday night at Highways  Performance Space in Santa Monica when a new dance posse calling itself No 1 Art House propelled a textbook version of ‘Today’s Dance’ into the world. The audience was half-schvitzing from the room temperature, half-stunned by how stimulating, immediate and excellent the experience. ...

Classical Audacity at The Broad

Music writer Thomas Aujero Small contributes to arts·meme… There are three extraordinary opportunities to experience daring, innovative classical music at The Broad Stage this fall. First, the Isango Ensemble of South Africa re-imagines Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Then the local, stellar, Calder Quartet will perform twice, once with soprano Yulia Van Doran and then with ...

Vaslav & the Tramp 2

Dance · featured · Film
Los Angeles, 1916: An encounter between two great body-artists — Vaslav Nijinsky and Charles Chaplin. Never saw Nijinsky looking happier. Like this? Read more: The Tramp meets the Dying Swan Charlie Chaplin in China

Brilliant at ‘transforming people’ says Tippi Hedren of Edith Head

Fashion · featured · Film
One of the marvelous interactive exhibits at the just-opened “Hollywood Costume” exhibition, a co-presentation by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Victoria & Albert Museum at LACMA’s May Company building, is a virtual conversation between three movie collaborators. Two, alas, are deceased, but one is still vibrantly alive. Director Alfred Hitchcock ...