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 a night of dance chatter at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. A highly vaunted circle, including veteran gypsy dancers, a choreographer for the camera, and an Oscar-winning actor, gathered at AMPAS prior to a screening of “West Side Story” Monday July 18, 2016. In the photo, Maria Jimenez, who danced ...

‘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 ...

Jets & Sharks rumble @ Laemmle Anniversary Classics WSS screening

Dance · Film
A great evening on Wednesday when film critic Stephen Farber interviewed Russ Tamblyn (“Riff”) at a 55th anniversary screening of “West Side Story” before a very full house at the Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts Theatre. A slew of dance royalty attended the screening: Dancer Bobby Banas (“Joyboy” in the movie), Barrie Chase of Fred Astaire ...

Be the swingin’est thing. Be a Jet … @ Laemmle Anniversary Classics

Dance · Film · Theater
The film version of the legendary, game-changing Broadway musical was released 55 years ago, in 1961. arts•meme’s Debra Levine will offer opening remarks to the the movie at this week’s Anniversary Classics screening in Beverly Hills. Levine will share her dance appreciation of the musical’s creator and movie co-director, choreographer Jerome Robbins. She will also ...

The Jacksons bring joy to ‘Enjoy Yourself’

Dance · Music
So beautiful, in viewing Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall, Spike Lee’s documentary now available on Showtime, the sight of MJ au natural, his face unmarred by surgery, his youthful and impassioned spirit intact. The doc tours the great Quincy Jones-produced album “Off the Wall” with superb talking heads.  This video by ...

We love Hollywood ballet

Dance · Film
‘Normal’ ballet is so boring: Petipa, Balanchine, Tudor, Robbins, Ratmansky.  Those guys never put girls in pointe shoes on pianos. We prefer fancy, Hollywood-style ballet, like this photo from KING OF JAZZ (1930) made at Universal Pictures and featuring dancing by Russell Markert dancers (Markert, who, not surprisingly, founded the Rockettes, is listed as the ...

Remembering Mia Slavenska

Dance · Film
This simply spectacular photo memorializes a tremendous dancer of the twentieth century, the great Croatia-born prima ballerina Mia Slavenska. The rock solid legs, the startling physical intensity, the blazing eyes, all Slavenska. Following her career with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Slavenska’s long and winding road led, in the 1970s, to teaching classical ballet ...

Fred of our dreams

Dance · Film
From our friends at Julien’s Auctions, a pair of black-and-white silver gelatin prints of Fred Astaire taken by Andre de Dienes circa 1938. Both hand printed by de Dienes on double-weight paper and stamped by the photographer on verso. Sold at auction March 28, 2016.