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nancykhoke

Ruby Keeler and flat footed dance

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Greetings - I like many others watched 42nd Street over many years and I have always questioned the style presented by Rudy Keeler in the opening of the segment of the 42nd Street number. That heavy footed style made me question why anyone thought she could dance. My husband did some research and found that there is a style of hoofing that is flat-footed. The style is called buck dancing and if you search buck dancing you will find her name and the comment that she started as a buck dancer. You see the lighter tap dancing style in Shuffle Off to Buffalo. Just found this very interesting.... 

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Ruby looks off balance when she dances... I call it "falling forward" dancing. Interesting about the buck dancing.  She was an appealing little thing with her big doe eyes!

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It's interesting how the styles of dance changed over the years. I started watching musicals in the 1950s and worked my way back through the '40s to the '30s. I thought that many of the dancers in the '30s musicals looked awkward versus in the later movies.

 

 

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Interesting.  I like her clomping style.  She does appear a bit off balance, but she also seems to be having a lot of fun.  "Shanghai Lil" from "Footlight Parade" is very dated and problematic, but her dance is a highlight.

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41 minutes ago, atabor said:

As a tap dancer myself, I'm puzzled by all the Ruby Keeler hate. She's a great tapper.

Thank you. I'm a tap dancer and a long-time tap dance instructor.

Ruby Keeler is a very good tap dancer.   She had some of the best sounding TAPS in the business.

Today I think people have been spoiled by the extreme Dance Training that people have had. I studied ballet and Jazz which is what you have to do if you're going to be a modern type looking tap dancer.  in fact when it came down to it, I took more ballet and Jazz classes than I ever took tap because that was the only way to have technique.

Back in the day there was no real ballet in the United States. People simply saw steps and imitated steps. They did the best they could. It was a vernacular style because tap dancing is a popular dance that comes from folk dancing.  Also you must remember that people like Martha Graham, who created a contemporary dance technique, were just getting started too

The tap dancers who made it big time in the musicals were basically ballet dancers who studied tap dancing to make a living. I could say that about Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller and  Gene Kelly had his own studio so he learned from the best.

 Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis jr. and Donald O'Connor may have been a little different because  they were in Vaudeville as children. So they tap danced for a living.  But when Astaire was at the awkward age of 12,  which was the only year of his childhood that he wasn't working in  vaudeville, he went to regular public school and actually attended ballet class as well.

So today when you look at all of the dancers who have been so  well -trained in ballet, contemporary dance, Jazz technique --

and then  they put tap on top of that--

well, they look like they're very controlled and  centered as dancers. And they are.

But there's something so American and vernacular about the way Ruby Keeler and Jimmy Cagney tap dance that it makes you long sometimes for that more natural time.

When people learned to tap dance in pool halls, in the alley behind the  theater and on street corners in Roaring 20s style type vernacular dancing before dancers had to slave sway in mirrored studios at the ballet barre to have the same anatomical correct style.

 

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