Happy birthday, Jerry! Love, WSS kids

Dance · Film
When was the last time a film clip got a standing ovation? Well, it happened last night. The audience at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills erupted in appreciation after watching Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, on screen, kicking it to Leonard Bernstein’s thumping music and Stephen Sondheim’s wicked lyrics (all still ring ...

Backstage brawl for Michael Kidd & Dolores Gray’s mother

Dance · Theater
We’re always looking for good show-biz stories involving the estimable Dolores Gray. Jack Cole, who worked with Gray on several projects — Kismet, Designing Woman among them — had a few select words about Gray … and her mother. In this case, the story concerns Gray’s hiring for Destry Rides Again, the Broadway musical adaptation ...

How “Birdcage” choreographer Vince Paterson created ‘Fosse Fosse Fosse’ number 4

Dance · Film
“I had the joy of working with Mike Nichols twice. First on “The Birdcage,” and then on “Closer,” I directed Natalie [Portman] and Clive [Owen] in some movement.” We were chatting with choreographer Vincent Paterson on the sad occasion of the death of director Mike Nichols. While working on “The Birdcage,” Paterson created, on the ...

Gene Kelly’s witty number in “It’s Always Fair Weather” 5

Dance · Film
We enjoyed watching  “It’s Always Fair Weather” (MGM, 1955, co-dir: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen) recently on Turner Classic Movies. The song-and-dance number in the video above, Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks, bears much influence of Jack Cole (he, too, worked with Gray, coaching the non-dancer in “Kismet” and “Designing Woman,” both at MGM). So ...

Matt Mattox (1921-2013) leads off in “Lonesome Polecat” 5

Dance · Film
Big guy Matt Mattox leads off his “brothers” in this lovely unhurried number choreographed by Michael Kidd for SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (MGM, 1954). The precision! Matt’s mournful singing, “Can’t make no vows … to a herd of cows” is dubbed in the movie by Bill Lee. Like this? Read more: Matt Mattox, memorialized ...

Robin Williams’ “eclectic celebration of the dance” in “The Birdcage” 2

Dance · Film

Melissa Hayden hops a train — just as she hopped into the arms of Jacques d’Amboise 2

A characteristic shot of the inimitable New York City Ballet ballerina Melissa Hayden (1923-2006), nee Mildred Herman, a nice Canadian Jewish girl (who knew?) who wanted to be a champion swimmer, or so we learned from Milly’s habitual partner, Jacques d’Amboise, at an ALOUD book talk last week. D’Amboise reveled in stories about the extroverted, ...