The wow factor: Paul Steffen Dancers in Italy, 1964 3


Sometimes all you can say is, “Wow.”

After a European tour circa 1950, Jack Cole dancer Paul Steffen — a member of Cole’s resident dance company at Columbia Pictures who performed in all of Cole’s Rita Hayworth stuff and more — settled in Italy for the rest of his life. There he made this work — a great youtube ‘find’ for this researcher.

The handsome Steffen shows up at 0:09. Cole would have kicked his arse if he he tried to smile, as in 01:43, during a Cole performance.

Steffen also danced for Lester Horton. Horton, too, would have frowned mightily at that smile. What this work brings to mind is that Steffen & Co. performed at the Lido nightclub in Paris. This is very Lido-esque.

More than a dollop of Italian futurism in here, as well as in the music. I wonder where Steffen got his concept? A similar “rope dance” performed by Cole and Gwen Verdon pictured here.

3 thoughts on “The wow factor: Paul Steffen Dancers in Italy, 1964

  1. Jim Jan 12,2018 1:54 pm

    It’s interesting exploring the place he lived in Italy, Calcata. At one time condemned by Mussolini, all the then residents were moved out and it was only saved from destruction by the war. It subsequently turned in to a sort of Hippieville, populated by random bohemians from all over the world. There are even a couple of videos on You Tube showing Steffen in his latter days, including this one of the mirrored cave in his basement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZtC-hkycI8

  2. debra levine Jan 9,2018 10:58 am

    Steffen worked with Lester Horton in Los Angeles, who to my mind was not huge on props, but I may stand corrected. I see a lot of influence of Italian futurism in this choreography ….

  3. Neil Ellis Orts Jan 9,2018 10:29 am

    Very cool. Wonder if there was a connection between Steffen and Alwin Nikolais?

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