Hi-Jinx: Tommy Rall

Another of the great, but lesser known, film dance stars, Tommy Rall, who died this month. As a youngster, he was in a group of dancing teens called the “Jivin’ Jacks and Jills” at Universal Studios, which included Donald O’Connor. He was trained in ballet, and his amazing high jumps, pirouettes, and flips rival anything else seen on the screen. He appeared in movie musicals almost every year in the 50s, but somehow he never made it into super-stardom. O’Connor thought Rall was one of the greatest dancers living, a better dancer than either Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.

Here he is with Ann Miller in “Why Can’t You Behave?” from Kiss Me Kate, where he mixes dance with some practical jokes in a fun character piece.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber JOHANNQUETEBEO

The Fabulous Lois Bright and the Miller Brothers

The amazing African-American tap dancer, Lois Bright. She was married to Dan Miller one of the two tap-dancing Miller Brothers that you see in the clip above. Unfortunately, Lois Bright Miller never got her full recognition in show business, as the act was called simply, The Miller Brothers and Lois. But as you can see, she did everything that the brothers did and more.

Clearly, if you’re talking about the great female tap dancers of the last century such as Ann Miller and Eleanor Powell, then Lois Bright Miller is right up there.

Ginger Rogers, eat your heart out.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber lavenderhousefilms

Begin The Beguine: Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell

Three minutes of heaven as Eleanor Powell, in heels, gives Fred Astaire a run for his money.

The clip above is from the film Broadway Melody of 1940. Powell was probably Astaire’s most accomplished tap partner. Astaire reportedly claimed he would never work with Powell again because Astaire (himself a notorious perfectionist)  never wanted to work as hard again.

Thanks to YouTuber CatCORViN

 

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly: One Time Only

The one time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced together on the big screen (except for the That’s Entertainment series) was in the 1946 film The Ziegfield Follies. Just sublime. Take a look at this utterly delightful clip.

Thanks to YouTuber Claq & Co – Tap Dance Specialist

The Greatest Dance Sequence Ever?

Mikhail Baryshnikov called the Nicholas Brothers the greatest dancers he had ever seen in his life. Fred Astaire called the dance number in the clip above the greatest musical dance sequence ever captured on film. Who am I to argue?

Cab Calloway starts off the madness singing “Jumpin Jive” from the film Stormy Weather.

Thanks to YouTuber laughland

Happy Feet!

Feeling tapped out these days? Not Gregory Hines, Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown, or Sandman Sims, five of the masters of American tap dance. This one is lots of fun.

Thanks to YouTuber Mercedes Barker

Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre

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I’ve always been fascinated by rehearsals, both as a spectator and performer. Sometimes, as an actor, I enjoy rehearsals more than performances. The most amazing things can happen in rehearsal that somehow are never re-captured in performance.

A few weeks ago I attended a rehearsal of the Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre. Here’s my report as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Click on the triangle to listen.

Trash To Gold

Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd, and Dan Duryea as three GIs about to be discharged, set out on a binge and do an incredible dance number with trash can lids. From the film, It’s Always Fair Weather, the last Gene Kelly–Stanley Donen collaboration.

Thanks to YouTuber Peggy Afuta

Where Did You Learn To Dance?: Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds

 

I was so happy to learn that the year after Singin’ in the Rain was made, O’Connor and Reynolds made another movie together (sans Gene) called I Love Melvin. Here’s a great dance number from the film.

Thanks to YouTuber warnerarchive

Sitting Down On The Job: Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor

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Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor dance up a storm without leaving their seats. Nice work if you can get it. Stick with it and see what they do when they finally get off their butts…

Thanks to YouTuber Vladmir Zworkin

“Baby You Knock Me Out”

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Monday morning, the extraordinary Cyd Charisse floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and schools the boys in boxing lore in this dance clip from It’s Always Fair Weather. Music and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Thanks to YouTuber Warner Archive Instant

“We Think You’re Just Sensational”

 

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Angela Lansbury in one of her signature roles at the 1975 Tony Awards.

About two-thirds of the way through the clip, Lansbury gets surprised by a guest dancer. Don’t miss it. The look on her face is wonderful. (If you don’t recognize who it is, I’ll post his identity in the comments.)

Thanks to YouTuber kotlicek

 

 

Cloudburst Crooning

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Monday morning, you jump out of bed onto a lamppost  for the opportunity to make a splash.

The wonderful title song from the movie, performed and choreographed by the effortless Gene Kelly, and brilliant direction by Stanley Donen.

Favorite part: the explanation to the cop at the end.

Thanks to YouTuber ozabbavo77