How a genius choreographs: Jack Cole’s “Beale Street Blues” 2

Dance · Film

In this 30-second snippet from the men’s dance in “Beale Street Blues,” one of Jack Cole’s three great dance numbers from THE I DON’T CARE GIRL (Fox, 1953), the work of a brilliant dance maker is on display.

It’s a game of craps gone wrong. It gets played out on a platform, ostensibly  (my reading) the second floor of a whorehouse.

Creator Cole applies a deft hand in positioning a group of men for a brawl, one of the choreographer’s common themes. At 0:23, Cole dispatches one dancer to squat on all fours just in time to break the fall for another, who tumbles backward. It’s genius how Cole sneaks this in.

Popping in at the end, at the top of a staircase (another Cole trademark): Gwen Verdon. And she’s waving a pink scarf — to magnify the “wave” and make it more viewable.

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2 thoughts on “How a genius choreographs: Jack Cole’s “Beale Street Blues”

  1. debra Jun 22,2013 5:10 pm

    Thank you, Larry. To my eye, this sequence is the opposite of arbitrary. Cole is moving his dancers like chess pieces. So, I am agreeing with you.

  2. Larry Billman Jun 22,2013 4:08 pm

    Yes it is brilliant – and seemingly arbitrary for those dancers. I never danced for Mr. Cole except in an “East Indian” class. Compared to the “throughlines” of movement I had danced, the routines came out of nowhere and surprised even the students. However, once you processed it, it was not arbitrary at all.

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