‘Dance Masters’ Chakiris & Chase in ‘An Evening at the Barn’

Dance · Film
Two great dancers. Two beautiful people. Both with Los Angeles dance roots. Both gypsy dancers in the great decade of movie-musicals, the 1950s. Between them, their titles include: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There’s No Business Like Show Business, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, Meet Me in Las Vegas, The I Don’t Care Girl, Daddy Long ...

Happy birthday, Barrie Chase! 1

Dance · Film
Wishing a wonderful birthday to a leggy lady, the great Hollywood dancer Barrie Chase. She not only graced Fred Astaire as his final partner, she brought her own strong, vixen presence as a solo dancer (on view in the video, dancing to “The Girl from Ipanema”) to millions of American television viewers in the 1960s. ...

Jack Cole’s nightclub act: a talk by Debra Levine Oct 25

Dance · Language & ideas
A review headline screamed, “Cyclone Hits Slapsy Maxie’s.” The performance?  Jack Cole and His Dancers at the Wilshire Boulevard supper club in 1948. In the house: Frank Sinatra, Robert Walker, Jimmy Durante, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Jimmy Dorsey, Max Baer. Also attending, according to the review, “Bullets Durgom still without a toupee.” Cole ...

Why and when Ethel Martin started wearing hats

Dance · Theater
Yet another delicious show-business nugget from the plain-spoken Jack Cole dancer Ethel Martin, courtesy of the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts: So out of working for Jack [Cole] at the Casa [the Casa Manana, Billy Rose’s night club] , Jack held auditions for Something for the Boys. He took me. He didn’t ...

‘Showgirl’ dances once more, at Film Forum

Dance · Film
In 1928 Alice White, First National Pictures’ blonde answer to Clara Bow, starred in the movie musical Show Girl. She plays Dixie Dugan, an aspiring dancer who fakes her own kidnapping as a publicity stunt. Based on popular writer J.P. McEvoy’s Dixie Dugan character, Show Girl was the first starring vehicle for White. Long thought ...

How Eugene Loring ‘got sold’ on working for producer Stanley Kramer 1

Dance · Film
Fascinating commentary from dance maker Eugene Loring who choreographed the whimsical The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, a Dr. Seuss-derived cult movie dating from 1953. Loring, the creator of “Billy the Kid” ballet for American Ballet Theatre and founder of Hollywood’s American School of Ballet, ports impressive film credits that include Ziegfield Follies (1945), Yolanda ...

George Chakiris recalls ‘West Side Story’ filming 1

Dance · Film
“All of Jerry’s choreography in this film is dialogue. It’s feeling. It’s not just dance steps.” So said George Chakiris apropos the choreography of Jerome Robbins, during “A Conversation with George Chakiris” at The Ellen Theater in Bozeman, Montana, in 2015. Robbins personally cast Chakiris as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks gang, for West Side ...

Love for Ethel Martin

Dance · Film
Yes, love for Ethel Martin, the career-long Jack Cole dancer whose consistent, forthright and outspoken advocacy for Cole is nourishing my research. I agree with Ethel’s assessment whole-heartedly; she saw in Cole a great Unsung Genius. She devoted her career and all of her feisty spirit to him. In turn, I am doing my best ...

Gypsy dancer shop-talk at the Academy

Dance · Film
It was an occasion for dance-chatter the other evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. A highly vaunted circle, including veteran gypsy dancers, a choreographer for the camera, and even an Oscar-winning actor, gathered at AMPAS prior to a screening of “West Side Story” Monday July 18, 2016. In the picture, Maria ...

‘West Side Story’ feted, dissected, appreciated at the Academy

Dance · Film
Fascinating film lore revealed by producer Walter Mirisch, at Monday’s panel discussion prior to a special screening of West Side Story (1961) at the Academy. Apparently Jerome Robbins, WSS’s creator/co-director, was extremely resistant to the location shooting, in New York City, of the “Prologue” — the movie’s brilliant opening minutes when an overhead shot drills into ...