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mijiyoon38

Keeler vs Powell...Tap

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I don't know enough about tap dancing or any other type of dancing to make an analysis ...but I will make a few notes here about what I watched on the two clips provided for this course featuring Keeler & Powell

 

42nd street obv has the more catchy song & dance routine...this  one stays w/someone forever...nobody will forget 42nd street song & the street scenes along the Avenue are a jewel of a mini movie in itself...even the horse & wooden Indian are dancing!!!

42nd street song & dance routine deserved the nominations & awards it won...it makes even the non-dancers want to jump up & Hoof it!!! "Dancing feet on 42nd street"!!! 

The other clip featuring Keeler ...she uses her arms more...that's the only difference I note...the routine she is doing is not so catchy & memorable as 42nd street ...what is? 

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I agree with you. Ruby Keeler and the cast are magnificent. 42nd Street was the first Broadway show I took my daughters to.  They loved it. Even though it’s been so many years ago, they will say it’s their favorite Broad way show. In our house it was “Mr. Marsh is putting on a show!”  It was such fun. 

I may be way off base, but Eleanor Powell does not inspire me. Yes, she’s a very good dancer, but it doesn’t pull me in like some of the others. 42nd Street is one of my favorite musicals. 

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Keeler is more of an "every woman", the girl next door who longs to be a star. Powell on the other hand, exhibits and elegance and her dancing is more classical in nature, reflecting her formal training in ballet. She is a dancer and is the star whereas Keeler is a hoofer and the star is the ensemble.

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Keeler was  given it all she had and more in 42nd street an all time fav  I can  watch over and over , while Powell you can see her training  and watch  her beauty and elegance.   

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Just based on my observations between these two clips, and it could be more of a difference between the choreographers than the individual dancing styles, but Powell moved all over the space and interacted with many different characters. Keeler mostly just stood in one spot. I wonder if this is more a reflection of how musicals developed through time, similar to what was mentioned in one of our first modules. The earlier musicals, like 42nd Street, were much more stage-like, whereas the Powell clip (is it from Born to Dance?) seemed like it came a few years later, when musicals were adapting more to the nature of film as a medium.

I also noticed their actual tap dancing. Keeler's movements were pretty wide and exaggerated, especially in contrast to Powell, whose movements were smaller and more economical. Again, it could just be the nature of how musicals developed. Keeler was supposed to be performing to a large theater audience, so here movements would need to be much bigger than Powell's, who was performing in front of a close crowd.

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I am not an expert on tap dancing, but the one for 42nd Street just seemed more elaborate.  Costumes, extras, and panels that turned into a building with them at the top.  Wow! It also sounded like the taps were more pronounced in the first, but I heard tapping when she was spinning so it seemed a bit off.  

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As an overall sequence (and film, too), 42nd Street is better. That said, I find Powell's dancing more elegant and effortless than Keeler's (though I love Keeler, too). When I watch Keeler dance, I always get the sense that she's trying really hard. Of course, all the best dancers do, but her efforts seem noticeable to me in the sense that she seems to be trying not to screw up. Her movements are very careful and calculated, so they're a little more stiff. Powell's dancing looks effortless. She seems more at ease with her choreography and therefore looks more flowy and graceful. Both were clearly great, though.

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Both ladies were very talented. I feel that 42nd Street seemed more technical. Ruby Keeler appeared to make sure she was hitting all the right steps. Where as Eleanor Powell seemed to be having fun. Her dancing seemed effortless. She didn't look like she was thinking about her next step, she just moved. 

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Keeler seemed to have a heavy, weighed down tapping style. She was slightly collapsed, her shoulders were rounded and she would look down at her foot work a lot. Powell had a lighter, more flexible tapping style and an upright posture, appearing more polished. 

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Powell used her space and traveled around the room. The moves were tight and precise. You watched her move and heard that she was tapping, but I had to remind myself to check her feet and watch how she was dancing because it was so relaxed and comfortable. Keeler stared at her feet so I stared at her feet. The camera even zoomed in to show her shoes. It felt more forced as she seemed to pound every step into the ground (or top of a car!) Her moves got away from her and did not stay neatly underneath her. She seemed to overexaggerate each step which may have come from dancing on a stage instead of a filming studio. Her steps were not as clean as Powell's and appeared to require much more effort to perform.

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There are several differences between Keeler and Powell. The first is that Ruby sings and Eleanor doesn't. In fact, there isn't any singing until the end of the clip, Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue. The second difference, and this is the big one, is that Eleanor Powell is very physical and athletic in her dancing. She uses her whole body and rarely just her feet. With Ruby Keeler, the camera showed just her upper half while she was singing and her lower half when she was kicking out. But Ruby never did high kicks like Eleanor. Also, Ruby wasn't given a huge soundstage to work in. The "ship" that Eleanor was dancing on went on forever with a huge cast of supporting men. I also got the feeling that 42d Street was the star and Ruby Keeler was the presenter. With Hooray, etc. I thought that Eleanor Powell was the star and the music was there to support her dancing.

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Wow - I could not disagree more with most of the comments.  Ruby Keeler, at least from this specific clip which I think she is most famous for, is at most what is called a "hoofer"!  No grace, no style, just plodding out steps that we learned in dance school to 3rd grader-age kids.  I had not seen it for a while and I was astounded that she was hired for the part and would have been lucky even in the context of the movie's plot to get that part.  Eleanor Powell might not be able to sing enough for them to dub in another voice but did you consider Keeler's voice good enough?  Powell is a DANCER.  And showed just about every style in that number - even though my opinion of "Born to Dance" as a movie is pretty grim.  I like corny musicals and such but it was trying to be funny and it was not.  I thought (sorry Dr. Ament) that the bit in the park was not amusing at all.  Perhaps because I had already seen later day bits like that done by Danny Kaye BEFORE I saw the earlier one by Reginald Gardiner, I assume it was earlier, but he didn't pull it off.  I like Gardiner very much - have seen him in many things.  But I digress.  Powell shows she knows ballet, Latin movement, can tap her feet off.... Hands down the better of this pair.  This is another clip and no "big ship"!  LOL 

 

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Keeler vs. Powell: no contest. Keeler looks like she's working hard, looks down a lot and, by contrast to Powell,

looks a bit clumsy.  Eleanor Powell was one of the best tap dancers--male or female--in Hollywood.

She seems effortless, is having fun, and is athletic and fluid in her movements. I hope you show the clip from

Broadway Melody of 1940 next week, where she and Astaire dance to Begin the Beguine.

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Comparing Eleanor Powell to Ruby Keeler is almost an unfair comparison. Eleanor was a trained ballet dancer long before she began tap dancing and the way she uses her entire body to dance, which is the way my dance instructors always taught us to do in class, is magnificent. Ruby Keeler was, as some have phrased it, a "hoofer" and her movements do look very elementary and jerky. She almost appears as if she is unsure as to what steps to use, regardless of whether or not she was taught the routine by a choreographer. Ruby is adorable and has such a cute little face and I can see why Al Jolson was enchanted by her and he most definitely used his huge star power and influence to get her introduced to the "right people" to help launch her career. Eleanor was so loaded with talent that she made it on her own. She was absolutely adorable, too, with such a beautiful face and that marvelous smile of hers. Have always enjoyed watching Eleanor's films and would always take the time to view them. Ruby's films are ok, but she's not the reason I would watch them. I would watch them for the other star players like Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, whom I absolutely loved because of her pretty face, sassy characterizations and abundant talent, even her performance in the film Grease, so many years later.

joan blondell.jpg

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A couple of others have said it best...Ruby Keeler is a hoofer, Eleanor Powell is a dancer.  Powell has such grace and flair.  I did not know prior to this course that she was trained in ballet and then learned tap.  Explains a lot about her dance style.  

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