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Your Favorite Astaire or Kelly?

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Fred Astaire no good without a dance partner?! Thats just wrong. Which performances did you get this idea from - I'm baffled! I've seen so many of his films and can't recall any solo dancing that was no good.

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This is a tough one... but my gut reaction is Gene Kelly! His athleticism was remarkable. He could have been an athlete or a dancer. He exuded more energy than Astaire but they may have been an element of the times & his youth (as compared to Astaire). But Fred Astaire will always be right up their... he was a much better tap dancer than Kelly!

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Although I always liked Kelly BUT I'd have to cast my vote for Astaire. He had such grace, style and moved so effortlessly. I prefer grace to sheer physicallity.

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I love 'em both. Just let a dance sequence come on and I sit there with a silly grin on my face, absolutely transfixed until it's done...

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I like them both but for different reasons. Kelly is the down-to-earth girl-seeking guy with muscles on muscles which he shows whenever he gets the chance. I love his dancing and athletic abilities and the fact that he can choreogrph a complete film and not really do the same steps twice. And he is sexy in a boyish way. Fred is himself-always sort of quiet even in his songs he never gets riled up. He is suave, sophisticated, debonair and chooses films that show these qualities to the max. And I enjoy very much how his dancing partners have his choreogaphed steps right in line with his. They often look like twins or images in a mirror when they dance. I especially like him with Cyd Charrise and Ginger Rogers. :) Sue

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I love them both, but the majority of my love leans closer to Kelly. I just can't get enough of him. He simply tickles me to death. I love him.

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I prefer Kelly but I love Fred Astaire too! I have seen more Gene Kelly films and have more of his dvds, he was incredibly sexy and talented. But I love the way Fred Astaire comes across too. I just bought the Astaire/Rogers collection and I can't get enough of it. I am happy to say this thread is asking "who your favorite is" instead of "who was the better dancer" considering there has been way too many discussions about who was better. For me I think it is impossible to compare the two! I don't mean to use an old cliche' but all I can say is Apples and Oranges! I love Kelly's boundless energy and combination of ballet,jazz, and Tap. Fred Astaire is incredibly graceful and floats on air!

In the end I have come to the conclusion that there is no need to compare them but to embrace them both for what they had to offer and how they revolutionized the movie musical!

 

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I have to agree with tracey65k. I love a good dancin' movie. My favorite depends on my mood, but if I really had to choose, I would probably lean a little closer to Gene Kelly. There's something indefinable about him.

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Re: Your Favorite Astaire or Kelly? Posted: Aug 30,2005 2:42 PM

Gene Kelly was very romantic and intimate. He danced close (often cheek to-cheek) to his partners (see: "An American in Paris", "Anchors Aweigh", "On the Town"). Fred Astaire acted sophisticated and charming--but for the most part avoided intimate contact with his dance partners: His "Ballroom" dances with Ginger were fast and contained aloft of tap-dancing--but Fred always seemed to be a "safe" distance apart from Ginger. Even in the romantic "He loves and she Loves" dance from "aloft", Fred's cheek never touches Audrey Hebrews cheek, and he never has his arms totally around her.

 

Fred's most intimate dance was the "My Shining Hour" dance that he did with Joan Leslie from "The Sky's the Limit". Many Fred Astaire fans (including myself) consider "The Sky's the Limit" to be his greatest movie. And they consider Joan Leslie to be his greatest and most intimate leading lady. Other classic dances in which Fred seemed to be enjoying the company of his Dance partner:

--The "Shorty George" dance with Rita Hayworth from "You were never Lovlier"; "Where did you get that girl" dance from "Three Litle words"; and the "Mr. & Mrs. Hoofer at Home" dance from "Three little words". Those are among my favorite Fred Astaire numbers.

 

Vincente Minnelli said that Gene Kelly was an intellectial with a very romantic nature (see PBS Masters special on Director Vincent Minnelli).

 

Being a romantic myself, I especially love Gene Kelly movies

(My favorite Gene Kelly movies are: "An American in Paris", "Anchors Aweigh" and "On the Town".) I absolutly love the "An American in Paris" ballet, and the "On the Town" ballet"--and I love a number of other Gene Kelly numbers, such as his "Our love is here to stay" number from "An American in Paris", and "Garbage can lid dance" from "It's always Fair Weather."

 

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I couldn't get spell=check to work correctly so I re-did my post.

 

Gene Kelly was very romantic and intimate. He danced close (often cheek to-cheek) to his partners (see: "An American in Paris", "Anchors Aweigh", "On the Town"). Fred Astaire acted sophisticated and charming--but for the most part avoided intimate contact with his dance partners: His "Ballroom" dances with Ginger were fast and contained alot of tap-dancing--but Fred always seemed to be a "safe" distance apart from Ginger. Even in the romantic "He loves and she Loves" dance from "Funnyface", Fred's cheek never touches Audrey Hepburns cheek, and he never has his arms totally around her.

 

Fred's most intimate dance was the "My Shining Hour" dance that he did with Joan Leslie from "The Sky's the Limit". Many Fred Astaire fans (including myself) consider "The Sky's the Limit" to be his greatest movie. And they consider Joan Leslie to be his greatest and most intimate leading lady. Here are some other classic dances in which Fred seemed to be enjoying the company of his Dance partners:

--The "Shorty George" dance with Rita Hayworth from "You were never Lovlier"; "Where did you get that Girl" dance from "Three Little words"; and the "Mr. & Mrs. Hoofer at Home" dance from "Three Little Words". Those are among my favorite Fred Astaire numbers.

 

Vincente Minnelli said that Gene Kelly was an intellectial with a very romantic nature (see PBS Masters special on Director Vincent Minnelli).

 

Being a romantic myself, I especially love Gene Kelly movies.

(My favorite Gene Kelly movies are: "An American in Paris", "Anchors Aweigh" and "On the Town".) I absolutly love the "An American in Paris" ballet, and the "On the Town" ballet"--and I love a number of other Gene Kelly numbers, such as his "Our love is here to stay" number from "An American in Paris", and the "Garbage can lid dance" from "It's always Fair Weather."

 

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I tend to shy away from "bests" and "mosts;" there is such a wealth of wonderful work to choose from that I don't quite see the point. As for my favorites, they are subjective--as I believe everyone's are.

 

The Sky's the Limit is my favorite film, and I love Joan Leslie, and the "Shining Hour" dance. I agree that the scene that serves as prelude to the dance is wonderfully romantic, as are most of their scenes together in that movie.

 

I'd have to strongly disagree with the contention that most of the Astaire-Rogers dances were not intimate or romantic. It's true that they weren't often simple love duets, as they had a great sensuous energy and complexity. In contrast to pure boy-meets-girl joyousness, many of the dances are about grownups who are (or are about to be) deeply involved with each other ("Night and Day," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Cheek to Cheek," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Change Partners," "The Missouri Waltz," "They Can't Take That Away from Me.")

 

I guess my favorite A-R dance is "Never Gonna Dance" from Swing Time. While the "Waltz in Swing Time" is sheer rapture, "Never Gonna Dance" is that, PLUS the pain and longing that can characterize love. And the way Astaire looks at Rogers, and the way they speak in that scene before the song--and that song! Transcendent.

 

And it's pretty hard for me to believe that anyone would not find "Dancing in the Dark" (from The Band Wagon) romantic and intimate. The dance is all about Tony's passionate facial expression and tender handling of Gaby. In John Mueller's marvelous book, Astaire Dancing, he describes "Dancing in the Dark" this way: "Several times the dancers sink to the floor and hesitate in apparent surprise and wonder at what is happening to them." ...Well, after the second of these, a drop that follows a picturesque lift, they rise slowly, their hands parting. Until that moment, Tony has looked as if he were coolly observing how his dancing meshed with Gabrielle's. But as they rise, they begin to look mesmerized by each other. Next he twirls her and then partners her from behind, his arm tightening around her waist. In a trancelike way Gaby covers his hand with hers, and they look into each other's eyes, and he furrows his brow in realization...

 

Part of Astaire's appeal is the way he expresses love scenes (and even affectionate and fun courtship scenes) within his dances. I agree that he is a master at

that, but I also love to see his acting outside of the musical numbers. In The Band Wagon you see it played out with more depth than one usually sees in a musical: think of "By Myself," of his bemusement on 42nd Street, of the scene in which he gives Cyd a neck massage, and of the one where he looks wistfully after her as she goes back to her berth on the train, then tries to act nonchalant while talking with Oscar Levant.

 

(The moment I'm talking about has *just* taken place right at the very beginning of this clip:

http://entimg.msn.com/i/asx/movies/BandWagon_MBR.asx)

 

Sorry to be so long-winded! You just hit on my favorite intertwined subjects, that's all: Astaire and romance.

 

 

 

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Hi All! Thought I'd jump in again with a few more thoughts on the "twins." If you come right down to it-both are MEN. And they usually dance with WOMEN. And I don't care who their partners are-they DO get very intimate in most of their dances when it is called for. Even an "oldie" like me can see it in their eye contact, the way their hands move and carress each other, the way they're so in synch and the closeness they both manage to get in at least once, if not more, says a whole lot. Both can be very tender and attentive and they BOTH do the cheek to cheek thing-I've seen it more than once. They both are terrifically romantic but Fred just adds a few touches to his romanticism. Love them both dearly. :) Sue

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Fred Astaire danced with his sister Adele for 23 years, but he intentionally never appeared to be intimate with her--because the audience new that he and Adelle were brother and sister.

 

Fred's wife was on the set of all his pictures with Ginger, and on the set of many of Fred's non-Ginger pictures. Ginger later said that Fred Astaire was self-concious and nervous when his wife was on the set. Jane Powell also said that Fred appeared to be nervous when his wife was on the set.

 

Fred did not like some of the outfits that Ginger chose to wear for their dances. But Ginger refused to change her outfits. Was Ginger trying to up-stage Fred by wearing these unusual outfits?

 

Fred said that he did not "look good" when he kissed his leading ladies.

 

Because Ginger appeared in other movies, she often was not available to rehearse her dances with Fred Astaire. So Fred had to practice his dances with Hermes Pan (who later thaught Ginger her steps). It's hard to create an intimate dance when you are dancing with another man.

 

People who knew Fred said that, although he was always the perfect gentleman--he was very shy and intoverted.

 

The plots in many of Fred's movies seemed to be written in such a way as to prevent Fred from being intimate with his leading ladies. (Fred was renown for not kissing his leading ladies in many of his movies.)

 

Fred did not want to be type-cast as the partner of Ginger Rogers.

 

Although "the Tariocca", "the Continential", and the Piccadillo" dances had very exciting and erotic orchastrations--when Fred and Ginger did these dances, the dances did not match the orchstations: on the contrary, these dances looked rather tame and non-sexual.

 

Dance critic, Arlene Croce, stated that Fred Astaire always did his dances in a "formal" fashion.

Yet she thought his dances told a story and contained romance and emotion. Part of "Night and day" seemed like a Tango (where Fred pulled Ginger's waist to his waist and moved forward in a dramatic fashion--while Ginger's face expressed astonishment)--I found this to be mildly sexy and romantic. But, as the dance progressed, Fred and Ginger moved apart from each other and danced separately; and when they got back together Fred began dancing at a fast pace--and then he jerkd Ginger (in a rough fashion from side to side in a half circle) as their heads roughly moved back and forth. I did'nt find that to be romantic.

 

In "Change Partners"--it was hard for Fred to be intimate with a sleeping person.

 

In "Never Gonna Dance", the first half of the dance was very melloncholy; and the second half of the dance looked like a dance contest (with numerous high-speed twirls). The dance was well executed, but made no sense to me. (Ginger's character "abandoned" Fred at the end of the dance.)

 

The Frenzy-like, slightly romantic, "Dance in Swingtime" was a grade A masterpeice--it is the greatest dance they did together!!

 

However a brother would not be embarassed to dance "Dance in Swingtime" with his sister in public. Nor would a brother be embarassed to dance "Dancing in the Dark" with his sister in public. In "Dancing in the Dark" there are no stolen kisses, or tender caresses, or loving embraces. Cyd Charisse was the lead dancer for most of the number. Fred Astaire was primarily her "catcher" and "supporter". (To his credit, the 53 year old Astaire had the grace and fluidity of a 23 year old ballet dancer!) After the "Dancing in the Dark" number, the relationship between Fred's character and Cyd's character in "the Band Wagon" never blossomed. "The Bandwagon" had very little romance in it.

(For examples of lovingly tender ballets see Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in "An American in Paris"; and see the Bambi Linn and James Mitchell ballet excerpt in "Oklahoma".

 

A brother would not be embarrassed to dance in public 95% of the dances that Fred Astaire did with his female partners.

 

Before the Astaire-Rogers movies (and even in "Flying down to Rio") Ginger Rogers played a number of "Butch"-tough-girl roles. Parts of her toug-girl persona were present in most of the Astaire-Rogers movies. I believe that "Swingtime" would have been one of the top three dance musicals (of all time) if it were not for the icy-cold and cutting remarks that Ginger's character made to Fred's character (on several occassions) during that film.

 

Ginger's tough-girl (and sometimes touchingly vulneralble and tearful) personna must have been very intimidating to the shy and conservative Fred Astaire.

 

However I believe that it was this dramatic and poignant Barbera Stanwyck-like quality (that Ginger possesesed) that made Ginger special--and is what made her a star. Ginger's persona along with Astaire-Rogers' smoothe, effortless, "hand-in-glove", dancing made the Astaire-Rogers dance partnership un-forgettable and enchanted!

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Fred Astaire's face and eyes were very expressive in some of his dances. For instance he emoted great pathos, longing, and sadness in "Never Gonna Dance" In "Caught in the Rain", his face expressed a school-boy-like amusement and mirth. In "The Shorty-George" his eyes sparkled, and he had a big smile on his face (he seemed to be very happy). In "My Shinning Hour" his face and eyes emoted great tenderness.

However, Fred's eyes and face were not very expressive in "Let's Face the Music and Dance", nor were they very expressive in "Cheek to Cheek"--I could't detect what he was thinking or feeling during these two dances. Also, Fred had a rather "neutral", hard to read, look on his face during his "Dancing in the Dark" duet. Perhaps in these three dances, he let the beautiful, flowing movements of the dances, and the highly expressive and suggestive dance-music convey what he was feeling and thinking.

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gijon--

 

I read somewhere that he hated the dress Ginger Rogers was wearing in the "Cheek-to-Cheek" number--the feathers made him sneeze. So maybe he was trying NOT to show his feelings there? lol

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Here are a couple of solo performances that I really enjoy:

 

--The "Seeing is believing" song and dance by Fred Astaire from "The Belle of New York".

 

--The very short acrobatic solo by Gene Kelly in the "Broadway Rhythm" section of the "Broadway Ballet" from "Singing in the Rain". The Solo begins whin Gene throws up his hat. The solo ends when Gene slides under the extended leg of Cyd Charisse.

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Un-like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire did not talk much about his choreorography in his audabiography and in his interviews.

 

Choreographer, Michael Kidd, who collaborated with Fred Astaire, said that Fred Astaire was a drummer, who was concerned about the rythums and beats of his dances; and he said that, because Fred never wished to repeat himself, Fred was always looking for new creative steps to add to his dances.

Of course Fred could have been thinking of many other things when he choreographed his dances. But, because we don't know exactly what Fred was thinking, critics are able to make their own interpretations. And different critics have different opinions.

 

One critic thought "Let's Face The Music and Dance" was Astaire-Rogers' greatest work. He thought it told an important story; and he attached signifigance and meaning to every step in the dance.

 

Another critic considered "Let's Face the Music and Dance" to be one of his least favorite Astaire-Rogers' dances. He thought that the dance was un-realistic; and felt that the dance looked like stylealized mala-drama. And he considered the dance to be rather boring.

 

Did anyone read Hermes Pan's book (which is out of print)? I wonder if he talked about the meaning behind some of the dance steps he and Fred choreographed? Was he and Fred thinking in terms of the story-line; was he and Fred thinking in terms of the relationsip of the dancers (in the movie); was he and Fred thinking in terms of the feelings and emotions of the dancers?Or was he and Fred thinking about all these things?

Or was he and Fred thinking about choreographing inventive dance numbers that matched the rythum and beats of the dance music (which was written by some of America's greatest composers)?

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Consider these two statements:

 

Comment: "In my dreams, I would have graceful and

dapper Fred Astaire take me to my school prom.

And in my dreams, I would have handsome and

passionate Gene Kelly be my lover."

 

Reply: "It would be "Heaven on Earth" just to dance

Fred Astaire!! If I was with Fred

Astaire--who needs sex?!!"

 

 

 

 

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