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Ray Bolger in The Great Ziegfeld, 1936

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I happened to see this routine on the TCM channel last night, and the film was nicely restored...

Ray Bolger's astounding tap dance routine from The Great Ziegfeld from 1936. The leg splits section alone is worth the price of admission. [Note that the abrupt beginning of the routine is simply the way the scene was edited]


The entire Bolger scene can be watched here, but the resolution is really low:


Edited by pherank
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6 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Bolger's adductors were something else. So was his vertical jump, especially those trademark pas de chat.

Yep. What really impressed me when I watched his performance on a large screen TV (and it was a good quality print of the segment) was how well he was able to articulate the various steps at a high speed. In Bolger's case, the idea is to create goofy poses that strike the audience as humorous, but to do that it's not enough to just whirl about chaotically - he still needed to make clean transitions between steps and achieve the proper emphasize in each position or it would all just be a blur to the eye. There's also a kind of structure or 'narrative' to at least parts of the dance which in itself is fascinating to try to decode.

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