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Musicals on Tap


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Miles--speaking of Cholly Atkins (aka Coles & Atkins) Have you ever noticed those soutenu turns done by the Temps and The Jackson 5--take a look. They're the same turn done by Astaire in so many dances. That was a real tap/ballet turn.

 

Muddy is still up!

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Black tap dancers...White tap dancers...This tap dancer was raised by a cinematographer. His first acting job was in a movie with Frank Sinatra, who introduced him to the Las Vegas Strip where he danced with the Rat Pack. He was in a number of TV shows, like I Spy and Hawaiian Eye...What's his name ?

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Muddy--you really came out of left field with this one--but lucky for me that James Wong Howe is one of my favorite cinematographers--from The Thin Man & The Sweet Smell of Success in B&W to Picnic and Funny Lady in color--Howe did them all.

 

You're referring to his Obscure godson, Martin Fong--no blood relation, I believe.

 

Did you see those shows, first-run, where he tap danced?

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You got it, Cujas. Martin Fong actually started acting in Hong Kong at eight years old. He moved to the US as a teenager and was raised by his godfather, James Wong Howe. It was through Howe that he got his first acting job with Frank in "Never So Few". Through Frank, he was introduced to Las Vegas where he did some tap dancing.

I really don't watch too many live shows...too many people. However, my three-year old grandaughter just started her tap and ballet class in Culver City, near the old MGM lot where my son-in-law works, so I guess I'm gonna have to watch her when we go out west this fall...We might drive by Kansas.

 

Your thread, Cujas.

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Muddy--not too many Asian-American tap dancers, aka jazz dancers appeared in the musicals, but one I loved was a stand-out.

 

He appeared in 2 Rodgers & Hammerstein screen classics, danced in the 60's as a regular on a musical series, along with alot of other TV appearances through the 70's, including--would you believe--one on "Hawaiian Eye". Do you know who I'm talking about.

 

Hint: he tapped and all that jazz.

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Sure cujas, you can trip the light fantastick and I'll just trip. Now, there was a vaudeville dancer who had some ballet training. She was invited to play a small role in a Zeigfeld production. A year later she was given an opportunity to dance in a ballet staging of Gershwin's "An American In Paris". Some years later, she danced in an Oscar winning movie. Not long after that, she danced in a movie with Fred Astaire. She moved on from Hollywood to working as a dancer and choreographer in Billy Rose's nightclub, "The Diamond Horseshoe". Later, she opened her own dancing school and worked there for more than twenty years. If you can name her, could you also name the song that she danced to with Fred? For some hard earned extra credit, could you also name the musical piece that she danced to in the Oscar winning movie?

 

Cujas, if you're willing to stay after school. maybe we could work on a few steps. Let's see now, how does it go? First you put your two knees close up tight, You swing'em to the left and you swing'em to the right. What, that's not it? Well, I guess I need a lot of work. In the meantime, try answering the questions.

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Miles--pick yourself up, dust yourself off & start all over again!

 

Unfortunately you've brought up the unpleasant subject of Harriet Hoctor. She was the kind of "ballet" dancer you often saw in the 20's and 30's because we didn't have many authentic ballet instructors in America at that time. Lovely, though she was, her "specialty" was to contort her body into a horseshoe and kick herself in the head.

 

Where was George Balanchine when you needed him?

 

Ironically, Miss Hoctor performed her "Ballet" dance with Mr. Astaire in the Gershwins' "Shall We Dance" in 1937. The very next year, the Gershwins wrote The Goldwyn Follies, which starred the very beautiful Ballerina Vera Zorina, a real European-born ballet dancer from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

 

Miss Zorina had been trained by Olga Preobrajenska, one of the last teachers at the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre School. Miss Zorina's ballet was choreographed by Balanchine and they went on to marry and to continue artistic collaborations. (She is famously Mr. B's 3rd Ballerina Wife.)

 

To finish your question--Harriet Hoctor danced in The Great Ziegfeld and she and Astaire danced to, I believe, "Shall We Dance".

 

Well, that answer took me back to the ballet barre. But I may be ready for another kind of bar.

 

Miles--who could ask for anything more?

 

FYI--I'm going to leave Harriet's Ziegfeld dance number to you because the next question is--what Ocscar-Award winning number did the composers of that number write and what tap dancer was it associated with?

 

Edited by: cujas on Aug 13, 2012 7:31 PM

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Well, I waited several days for someone else to answer, but no one has. This thread is not the private domain of cujas and myself. We recently had mudskipper give an answer. I was hoping that more folks would join in. In "The Great Ziegfeld", Harriet Hoctor danced to a number with the imaginative title of "The Harriet Hoctor Ballet". It's also known as "A Circus Must Be Different In A Zeigfeld Show". It was written by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson. Two years earlier, they had been hired to write a few songs for a picture at RKO called "The Gay Divorcee". That was the film adaptation of a Broadway show that had starred Fred Astaire with music by Cole Porter. The only song to make it from Broadway to Hollywood for the movie was "Night And Day". They wrote a cute little number called "A Needle In A Haystack" that's performed by Fred early in the movie. Here is a clip:

 

 

 

I wonder if this is what cujas does when she's getting dressed to go out? Their big song was called "The Continental". It won the academy award that year. The production number is so big that youtube has it in two parts. Here they are:

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r57qCeIm3Fw&feature=related

 

 

and

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTVzuUMc5kU&feature=relmfu

 

 

The singers in the clips are Ginger Rogers, Erik Rhodes, and Lillian Miles. In the Jerome Kern song "I Won't Dance" in the movie "Roberta", Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh wrote the line "When you dance you're charming and you're gentle, 'specially when you do The Continental". Con Conrad also had hit songs with "Margie" and "Ma, He's Makin' Eyes At Me". Erik Rhodes and Eric Blore had also been in the Broadway production. I hope you take the time to watch the clips. It would appear that RKO thought that they needed elaborate production numbers to rival what Busby Berkely was doing at Warner Brothers.

 

 

OK, cujas, back to you.

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Miles--I don't think too many people are tap fans, like us. We may be a "dying" breed. But before it's too late, I've got another one:

 

Tap Dance is a part of Jazz Dance. One particular kind of jazz-tap dance doesn't use taps at all. The dancer wears tap shoes, sans taps, and dances on the surface of small, loose grains, often from quartz, (a granular substance) that is placed on the dance floor.

 

One Tap Dancer was famous for eschewing taps and only dancing on the granular substance. Even Astaire performed this type of "tap" dance twice in 2 different movies.

 

If you know all the answers, don't forget to gives the songs Astaire danced to with this granular substance.

 

"Everybody Dance!"

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Cujas, I think you're taking it easy on old Miles with this one. I hope you're referring to sand dancing, or sanding. Most folks on these boards have probably seen "Top Hat". Early in the movie, Fred Astaire is tap dancing in a hotal room. Ginger Rogers is on the floor below, trying to sleep. When she comes up to complain, Fred falls in love at first sight and decides to play sandman to put her to sleep. The song is called "No Strings, I'm Fancy Free" Here is a clip of the tap part.

 

 

 

And here is the sand dance part:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHcSdFVeXXA

 

Years later, in :"The Belle Of New York", Fred did a sand dance to "I Want To Be A Dancing Man". Guess what? I think we have another clip. Here it is:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKIOjuqSZuo

 

And who else is famous for doing a sand dance? Well. maybe it's Mr. Bojangles himself, Bill Robinson. He did one in "Stormy Weather". Yes, you guessed right again. We have another clip:

 

 

 

That's enough sand dancing for now. Cujas, have you ever done a sand dance? You must have been sweeping up for quite a while afterwards.

 

Edited by: MilesArcher on Aug 19, 2012 5:59 PM

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> {quote:title=MilesArcher wrote:

> }{quote}...sand dancing, or sanding. Most folks on these boards have probably seen "Top Hat". Early in the movie, Fred Astaire is tap dancing in a hotel room. Ginger Rogers is on the floor below, trying to sleep. When she comes up to complain, Fred falls in love at first sight and decides to play sandman to put her to sleep.

>

>

>

>

> Here is the sand dance part:

>

>

> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHcSdFVeXXA

>

>

>

 

Check out Buster Keaton's tribute to Fred Astaire, including the sand dance from TOP HAT, in Buster's 1936 Educational Pictures short GRAND SLAM OPERA:

(The "Astaire" part starts at about 7 minutes):

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iqkvGQhAcI

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My Dear Miles--

 

There was a beautiful tap dancer named Sandman Sims, aka Howard Sims. He spent his whole performing life in a sandbox on the stage--a 3' square.

 

You probably saw him in Gregory Hines' "Tap". I also saw him on the Cosby Show where he was the kids' tap instructor. You can also catch Sandman in "No Maps on My Taps", a filmed tribute to Black Tap Dancers.

 

Miles, you still have the "Midas Touch"--

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Thanks, I wish I had some touch around the putting green. We missed a couple of sand dancers. Here's Gregory Hines:

 

 

 

And the ultimate sand dancers - be still your hearts, ladies, these guys are real hunks!

 

 

 

Now, Fred and Ginger did a number on roller skates in "Shall We Dance?". Gene Kelly also did a song and dance on roller skates in "It's Always Fair Weather". There was another top musical star who also had a roller skating dance number in a musical. Can you name the star, the song, and the movie? Hint: It's not Linda Blair in "Roller Boogie".

 

You know, Cujas, I'll bet that Sandman Sims never danced on roller skates.

 

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You know, Miles, that Astaire did a tap number on the driving range. Maybe tap could improve your game.

 

Gene Kelly grew up on roller skates--that's why he always wanted to use them in a movie. Don't know if Gene was the choreographer of record on Xanadu--but he had Olivia Newton-John dancing and rolling to the title tune. That wasn't hard since the movie took place in a roller rink.

 

Just to keep you on your toes--tell the people about Astaire's golf number. Miles, some of his expertise might rub off on you! And don't forget the song, movie and composer.

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> {quote:title=MilesArcher wrote:

> }{quote}There was another top musical star who also had a roller skating dance number in a musical. Can you name the star, the song, and the movie?

Star: Donald O'Connor (with Noreen Corcoran).

Song: "Life Has Its Funny Little Ups and Downs".

Movie: I LOVE MELVIN (1953) - MGM.

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Actually, I had forgotten about "Xanadu". Musical Novelty got the one I was looking for, "I Love Melvin", with Donald O'Connor and Noreen Corcoran of the acting Corcoran siblings. Was she the one who was in the TV series "Bachelor Father"? Here is a clip.

 

 

 

With the way the question was worded, "Xanadu" could have been correct, so I'll leave the thread to either Musical Novelty or Cujas to ask the next question. Oh, and by the way, Cujas, you're still taking it easy on me. Fred danced and hit golf balls to an Irving Berlin song called "Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing" in "Carefree". Here he is.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEMDe0G8HWA

 

They say you should try to keep your feet still when you hit golf balls. Apparently, that doesn't apply to Fred. Well, Cujas, I bet they didn't teach you to do that in Paris!

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> {quote:title=MilesArcher wrote:

> }{quote}Musical Novelty got the one I was looking for, "I Love Melvin", with Donald O'Connor and Noreen Corcoran of the acting Corcoran siblings. Was she the one who was in the TV series "Bachelor Father"?

> I'll leave the thread to either Musical Novelty or Cujas to ask the next question.

 

Yes, Noreen Corcoran was the "Bachelor Father" star.

 

Her sister Donna can be seen in many MGM movies of the 1950's shown on TCM, notably ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD, GYPSY COLT, etc.

 

Cujas, feel free to ask the next one if you'd like...

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MN--more importantly her brother is Moochie/Toby Tyler, Kevin Corcoran--The Disney Boy Star.

 

Now let's tap our troubles away!

 

This Broadway musical has been done 3X on film during Hollywood's Golden Era. (The last time, they just kept the title, key numbers and had a re-worked plot.) It's a tap-tap happy musical with a memorable tune that every tap dancer had to dance to in dance school.

 

Any takers?

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My first thought was "Anything Goes", but as far as I know, it was only filmed twice. My next guess would be "No, No, Nanette" with the hit song "Tea For Two". "Tea For Two" was also the title of the version that starred Doris Day. Somehow, I always associate that song with a soft shoe routine, rather than a tap dance, so I'm not sure now, but that's still my guess.

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Miles--I wanna be happy, but I won't be happy til I make you happy too!

 

Ruby Keeler really did that up swell on Broadway. And lanky Doris Day had a go at it with Gene Nelson in "Tea for Two". The other versions of No, No Nanette were in 1930 and 1940.

 

FYI--tap dancing includes all verncular steps with/or without taps. We do 2 types of soft shoe tap steps--the side and the back essence. Traditionally in the vaudeville it may have been done sans taps--but the soft shoe is a basic tap step as important as a waltz clog step, a maxi ford or the buffalo.

 

Miles--go for it!

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Cujas, life's really worth living when we are mirth giving. I want to give some to you. I really do, so I hope you'll be happy with this clip. Ruby Keeler is in the second half. It's from the 1972 Tony Awards.

 

 

Now, Paul Whiteman and his orchestra had a hit with a song that dancers really liked. The title of the song was also the title of a well known animated movie that was made years later. Can you name it?

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