Jump to content


Popular Dance on FilmFrom Fillm and TV


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 02 September 2013 - 07:58 PM

But first, the Demonic Dance from Metropolis with Brigitte Helm - Just 'cause - sure the dancing is silly, but the film making is sooooo great.

And the art deco aesthetic mixed with German medieval architecture, and expressionist nightmare visions - it all looks so very exotic now:

 

The Black Bottom Dance, 1926 (the "Varsity Drag" title is incorrect)

 

Cotton Club Dancers

 

Whitey's Lindy Hoppers

 

The Shimmy
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=IcemYjTdvZ8

 

The Stroll (which still looks pretty cool):

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=UrGLNtZ0rEg

 

Ginger Rogers dancing the Charleston in high heels:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Myq6hg2gcWw



#2 Jayne

Jayne

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 870 posts

Posted 02 September 2013 - 08:58 PM

The Black Bottom Dance shows a lot of style that I think was incorporated into Balanchine's Rubies.  The dancers look very free and flirty, and I think that's what the Russians fail to capture.  They try for overt sexuality, but they miss out on the fun sensuality.  Maybe stagers who go to Russia should start out teaching the Black Bottom Dance, and then move on to teach Rubies. 

 

Also, I'd watch the Cotton Club girls show off every day plus a month of Sundays instead of all the clips of Miley Cyrus at the VMAs.  



#3 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 02 September 2013 - 09:00 PM

Thank you Pherank!!!  Great topic! Wonderful examples!

 

Please everybody, keep posting stuff you like.

 

Meantime, here's a curiosity -- the Hellzapoppin dance, reset  by some computer whiz to its original song, which was Count Basie's very popular Jumping at the Woodside. Frankie Manning choreographed it and dances in the number -- he's in the blue-jean overalls -- and set it very wittily to Basie's music. But the movie producers were not willing to pay Basie's fee and got an in-house composer to write a swing tune that would fit the steps to save money on production costs. Most Lindy Hop fans agree it's good in both cases, but that the dance is sweeter, funnier, more stylish, and more musical to Basie's music

 

Two versions: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=VdWgHtTau48

she second has a better picture but i don't like th sound as well:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=pTp2dIYWn0A



#4 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 02 September 2013 - 10:30 PM



The Black Bottom Dance shows a lot of style that I think was incorporated into Balanchine's Rubies.  The dancers look very free and flirty, and I think that's what the Russians fail to capture.  They try for overt sexuality, but they miss out on the fun sensuality.  Maybe stagers who go to Russia should start out teaching the Black Bottom Dance, and then move on to teach Rubies. 

 

Funny thing is, I had the exact same thought, and I suppose I've belabored the point elsewhere, but in order to understand the movements in a ballet like Rubies, you've got to immerse yourself in the social dance styles that it plays with, no? Dancers that have no exposure to American popular dances of the 20s and 30s are not going to get either the techniques or the references. Thus the cringe-worthy Russian performances of Rubies. Of course it would go the other way too: we can't just expect American kids to take to Cossack, Javanese or Flamenco dances, just because they are 'professional dancers'.

 

Many of the dancers in the videos are 'amateurs', and they are just phenomenal to watch. Incredible energy.

 

Here's another Black Bottom dance video, and it looks a bit like Ruby Keeler dancing...and there's some instruction on the steps to use.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=gsukq62fMA4

 

Collection of 1920s dances:



#5 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 03 September 2013 - 01:17 PM

It's so interesting to see these dances in terms of the different milieux in which they were actually danced.  Rubies is different in contemporary Moscow from what it was in NYC when Balanchine was alive.  The Black Bottom in Harlem was not the Black Bottom on Broadway.
 
Similarly, the wildly expressive Lindy Hop at the Cotton Club was a universe removed from the lindy that I and my high school friends tried to learn in suburban Long Island during the late 50s, when it was already an old-fashioned dance.  D-A-H dah dah dah DAH DAH.  D-A-H dah dah dah DAH DAH.  D-A-H dah dah dah DAH DAH.  DAH! DAH! DAH! (We practiced this in dance classes, along with the tango, rumba, samba, cha cha, foxtrot, and waltz.)
 
Watching the lily-white group of Idaho teenagers doing the Stroll (c. late 1950s),  I had flashbacks to lumbering my way through the same dance, to the same music, and wearing pretty much the same clothes (v-neck sweater for boys, exposing white undershirt; round-neck sweater for girls).   The sight of several of the Strollers actually mouthing the counts as they made their way towards the camera brought back memories.  Moving like this was way out of the comfort zone of your average white middle-class kid in those days, though possibly less so for our parents' generation who grew up in the 20s.

#6 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 03 September 2013 - 02:56 PM

Great descriptions, Bart.  ;)



#7 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,540 posts

Posted 03 September 2013 - 04:56 PM

Watching the lily-white group of Idaho teenagers doing the Stroll (c. late 1950s),  I had flashbacks to lumbering my way through the same dance, to the same music, and wearing pretty much the same clothes (v-neck sweater for boys, exposing white undershirt; round-neck sweater for girls).   The sight of several of the Strollers actually mouthing the counts as they made their way towards the camera brought back memories.  Moving like this was way out of the comfort zone of your average white middle-class kid in those days, though possibly less so for our parents' generation who grew up in the 20s.

Dead on, indeed!  I have really vivid memories of social dance classes in the late sixties, where the disconnect between the dances we learned in gym class (waltz. foxtrot) and the dances we did on Friday nights in that same gymnasium was astonishing.



#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 03 September 2013 - 05:37 PM

I'm a bit confused by the video clip on the Shimmy.  There seem to be two separate dances going on here:
 
-- the "shimmy" movement (super-fast hip rotations moving in  the opposite direction from the shoulder rotation);  Was the twist a reincarnation of this?  If so, the twist  was decidedly slower (more mechanical, actually) in its early years.
 
-- almost unconnected was  the "cheek to cheek" aspect, with bodies bouncing stiffly up and down.  Kids in the 50s quickly picked up on cheek to cheek, but seem to have given the stiff bouncing a pass. 
 
My personal favorite of the social dances we learned in dance class was the tango.  There was real passion, but the potential for wildness was contained (for the man) by a rather stiff formality and the challenge of remaining in control.  It was quite difficult to find a good, responsive, pliant, trusting partner of high school age.  I think the version we learned as kids had very little to do with the low dives and milongas where the dance originated, but it always had the potential of getting out of control.. speechless-smiley-003.gif
 
Question:  does anyone do the foxtrot anymore?  I recall it as stiff and dull, but a safe choice  for those who could not learn steps easily.

#9 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:18 PM

It was quite difficult to find a good, responsive, pliant, trusting partner of high school age.

 

Now that comment really made me laugh!

 

Minstrel Cakewalk


American Dance craze: The Big Apple


Big Apple dance at The Savoy Ballroom


The Jitterbug and the Lambeth Walk - check out the woman in the audience at 1:10

 

Daisy Richardson - 1940's Jitterbug Dancer
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=JE2AUn_kvMY

Suzie Q dance with Ina Hutton and Orchestra
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=2FvJvcZMn3U

 

The Tranky Doo

http://www.youtube.c...0KDAXwbWgOAwo6P



#10 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:20 PM

A great compendium of African American popular dances:

 

THE SPIRIT MOVES: A History of Black Social Dance on Film


And just for fun, Eddie Cantor and Dona Drake perform The Lady Dances - 1936



#11 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:50 PM

Thanks, phrank. 
 
Some of the social/political commentary on these videos is fascinating -- the one on the Big Apple, for instance, which gives a bit of the history behind one of the late 30s dance crazes. Or, the acerbic voice-over in the video that compares the more free-form aspects of swing with a decidedly formal, cafe-society version of the Lambeth Walk. 
 
There's also the contrast between amateur videos of real people jiving  in what almost looks like an improvisatory way and the more stylized versions that eventually showed up in nightclub shows or on the vaudeville stage.  (Daisy Richardson, jitterbugging alone on an empty stage, creates a very strange image, when you think about it.) 

It's also illuminating to watch the differences between the "free" almost dionysiac style of Boogie Woogie, for example, and then watch those other dances which seem more formalized (with rules that can be taught, gender roles strictly defined, etc.).
 
"Popular" dance" is a more complicated category than I imagined.

#12 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:16 PM

Thanks, phrank. 
 
Some of the social/political commentary on these videos is fascinating -- the one on the Big Apple, for instance, which gives a bit of the history behind one of the late 30s dance crazes. Or, the acerbic voice-over in the video that compares the more free-form aspects of swing with a decidedly formal, cafe-society version of the Lambeth Walk. 
 
There's also the contrast between amateur videos of real people jiving  in what almost looks like an improvisatory way and the more stylized versions that eventually showed up in nightclub shows or on the vaudeville stage.  (Daisy Richardson, jitterbugging alone on an empty stage, creates a very strange image, when you think about it.) 

It's also illuminating to watch the differences between the "free" almost dionysiac style of Boogie Woogie, for example, and then watch those other dances which seem more formalized (with rules that can be taught, gender roles strictly defined, etc.).
 
"Popular" dance" is a more complicated category than I imagined.

 

I'm definitely drawn to the odd juxtapositions, such as the voiceover in the Jitterbug/Lambeth Walk video.  ;)

 

There's a running joke about how the French get their language from the Académie Française, and the Americans get their language from Junior High students. Which is partly true. And social dances in the U.S. owe a great deal to Junior High students as well.

I think these films help to demonstrate how much social dances are a 'living' language, or conversation, that constantly evolves, as a good conversation evolves too. The freeform element in many of these U.S. social dances is fascinating in itself: Is this also found in Latin American dances? Or do they tend to be more constrained?



#13 sidwich

sidwich

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts

Posted 20 September 2013 - 03:39 PM

A fun contrast to the clip of Frankie Manning and Norma Miller above, but here are Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan:

 

 

You can see the contrast between the (and wildly generalizing here) New  York/Harlem and Los Angeles/Hollywood-friendly styles of Lindy Hop during the period.  I don't enjoy doing the Dean Collins style myself as much, but it photographed beautifully and Jewel McGowan had some of the most gorgeous leg and hip movement around.



#14 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,242 posts

Posted 20 September 2013 - 07:15 PM

A fun contrast to the clip of Frankie Manning and Norma Miller above, but here are Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan:

 

Very fun, Sidwich - thank you. Crazy fast dancing. That bleached blond and her partner were pretty funny too.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):