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How can you say this is the best dance number?


slaytonf
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It's a matter of personal taste, but I think a consensus will form around a certain set of routines.  Immediately, people will refer to things Gene Kelly, or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, or the Nicholas Brothers have done. But what makes me think of this is the upcoming airing of 42nd Street.  What?  42nd Street?  Sure, it's a good musical, the first really great one (uh, oh, maybe I shouldn't have said that), but what's remarkable about the dance numbers in it?---you ask.  Well, it's that last number set to the title song, that Ruby Keeler starts out stomping on the top of a cab.  Technically, there are many dances, even of a similar vintage, that are much better.  But for evoking the spirit of the song, for translating the words and music into image and movement, I don't think there ever has been anything to equal it.

 

 

'Side by side, they're glorifiiiied. . . . '

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It's a matter of personal taste, but I think a consensus will form around a certain set of routines.  Immediately, people will refer to things Gene Kelly, or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, or the Nicholas Brothers have done. But what makes me think of this is the upcoming airing of 42nd Street.  What?  42nd Street?  Sure, it's a good musical, the first really great one (uh, oh, maybe I shouldn't have said that), but what's remarkable about the dance numbers in it?---you ask.  Well, it's that last number set to the title song, that Ruby Keeler starts out stomping on the top of a cab.  Technically, there are many dances, even of a similar vintage, that are much better.  But for evoking the spirit of the song, for translating the words and music into image and movement, I don't think there ever has been anything to equal it.

 

 

'Side by side, they're glorifiiiied. . . . '

 

That's more of a production number than a dance number, although if you call it a dance number it's certainly near the very top of the list.

 

But the best?  Not quite.  Don't you remember that the same director in the same year gave us this?

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xh2bas_shanghai-lil-1933_shortfilms

 

Don't know why the clip doesn't show up directly, but it's Jimmy Cagney's memorable "Shanghai Lil" number from Footlight Parade. There's never been a better dance number than this one.

 

"That Oriental / dame is detrimental / to our industry"

 

"Said she won't be mine / for all of Palestine.  Oy!"

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It's a matter of personal taste, but I think a consensus will form around a certain set of routines.  Immediately, people will refer to things Gene Kelly, or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, or the Nicholas Brothers have done. But what makes me think of this is the upcoming airing of 42nd Street.  What?  42nd Street?  Sure, it's a good musical, the first really great one (uh, oh, maybe I shouldn't have said that), but what's remarkable about the dance numbers in it?---you ask.  Well, it's that last number set to the title song, that Ruby Keeler starts out stomping on the top of a cab.  Technically, there are many dances, even of a similar vintage, that are much better.  But for evoking the spirit of the song, for translating the words and music into image and movement, I don't think there ever has been anything to equal it.

 

 

'Side by side, they're glorifiiiied. . . . '

For some reason, my favorite has always been Ann Miller's "Too Darn Hot", from KISS ME KATE.

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There's only one standout in my mind:  Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, in the last section of the big dance number in "Broadway Melody of 1940," where they tap to Artie Shaw's "Begin the Beguine." I've seen it probably a hundred times, and I can't find a flaw in it anywhere (not that I'm looking).  I just love it.  She talked about it at his AFI celebration, saying they spent three weeks on the arm movements alone.  The fact that they changed tempo about four times in one segment was breathtaking.  They never lost a beat.  They were obviously having a great time doing it, as well.  She confirmed that in her speech.

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I second the "Moses Supposes" number from "Singin' in the Rain."

 

I also love the Washington's Birthday number in "Holiday Inn" where Bing Crosby keeps changing the style of music being played and Fred Astaire effortlessly transitions between dancing waltz, tango, jazz, conga, etc.

 

I also love Fred Astaire's "slow motion" number from "Easter Parade."

 

Gene Kelly's "An American in Paris" ballet is fantastic.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

The "Timewarp" number from "Rocky Horror Picture Show"

 

Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" dance

 

The "Greased Lightning" number from "Grease."

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There's only one standout in my mind:  Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, in the last section of the big dance number in "Broadway Melody of 1940," where they tap to Artie Shaw's "Begin the Beguine." I've seen it probably a hundred times, and I can't find a flaw in it anywhere (not that I'm looking).  I just love it.  She talked about it at his AFI celebration, saying they spent three weeks on the arm movements alone.  The fact that they changed tempo about four times in one segment was breathtaking.  They never lost a beat.  They were obviously having a great time doing it, as well.  She confirmed that in her speech.

 

Here it is: 

 

The number itself is very long with lots of other styles and dancers all over.  This is the final bit.  There's only one cut in it.

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I agree with Dothery.  The dance with Fred and Eleanor is about as good as it gets.  It would be tough enough for one person, but to synchronize the steps with a partner had to be doubly difficult, and remember, Fred and Eleanor were both perfectionists and they would rehearse over and over until the tiniest things were right.  Another dance number that may not be great, but is certainly memorable is the one by Bob Hope and James Cagney in "The Seven Little Foys" .

 

 

 

Remember, both Bob and Jimmy were in their fifties when they did this routine.

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Ann Miller and her dance routine TOO DARN HOT is a favorite, also a very favorite is Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, Carol Haney and Jeanne Coyne's dance routine FROM THIS MOMENT ON also from KISS ME KATE. I think it's Tommy Rall who begins the number with one of the highest jumps I've seen on the screen in a dance routine. Fosse is incredible. Jazzy and just a terrific number (just wish the routine was a little longer)

 

Ann Miller and her version of SHAKIN' THE BLUES AWAY from EASTER PARADE is a show stopper. Fred's doing STEPPIN' OUT WITH MY BABY also from EASTER PARADE.

 

The  amazing Eleanor and Fred in BROADWAY MELODY 1940,  MOSES SUPPOSES ( I love Donald O'Connor) already mentioned are also incredible dance routines. For sheer sexiness the routine that Gene and Cyd do in SINGIN IN THE RAIN will always be iconic.

 

I think the most relaxed I've ever seen Ginger was a very short tap routine she and Fred do in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY.

 

I love 42nd STREET and I agree with Slayonf, best use of a dance production number used to convey the lyrics of a song.

 

For me, it's impossible to say what was the best dance number. So many, so much brilliant talent to chose from and I'm so glad we're so lucky to get to see everything that's been mentioned.

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There are so many great dance routines, that it's hard to decide which is the best.  All of you have mentioned some great moments in musicals.  While I don't have one particular favorite, one that I never tire of watching is Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen dancing to "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" from "Words and Music."  Such a great number and the two of them make such a wonderful team.

 

Terrence.

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Ann Miller and her dance routine TOO DARN HOT is a favorite, also a very favorite is Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, Carol Haney and Jeanne Coyne's dance routine FROM THIS MOMENT ON also from KISS ME KATE. I think it's Tommy Rall who begins the number with one of the highest jumps I've seen on the screen in a dance routine. Fosse is incredible. Jazzy and just a terrific number (just wish the routine was a little longer)

 

Ann Miller and her version of SHAKIN' THE BLUES AWAY from EASTER PARADE is a show stopper. Fred's doing STEPPIN' OUT WITH MY BABY also from EASTER PARADE.

 

The  amazing Eleanor and Fred in BROADWAY MELODY 1940,  MOSES SUPPOSES ( I love Donald O'Connor) already mentioned are also incredible dance routines. For sheer sexiness the routine that Gene and Cyd do in SINGIN IN THE RAIN will always be iconic.

 

I think the most relaxed I've ever seen Ginger was a very short tap routine she and Fred do in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY.

 

I love 42nd STREET and I agree with Slayonf, best use of a dance production number used to convey the lyrics of a song.

 

For me, it's impossible to say what was the best dance number. So many, so much brilliant talent to chose from and I'm so glad we're so lucky to get to see everything that's been mentioned.

That would imply that Ann Miller is vastly underrated compared to Rogers, Powell, etc. I agree.

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That would imply that Ann Miller is vastly underrated compared to Rogers, Powell, etc. I agree.

Not necessarily, I love them all. That were all great dancers, Powell and Miller are my favorites for tap. Watching Ginger dancing with Fred is a pleasure. I don't think any classic film fan would consider Ann Miller anthying but a great dancer, So no, I don't think she's underated, she was great :)

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Not necessarily, I love them all. That were all great dancers, Powell and Miller are my favorites for tap. Watching Ginger dancing with Fred is a pleasure. I don't think any classic film fan would consider Ann Miller anthying but a great dancer, So no, I don't think she's underated, she was great :)

 

I agree that any classic film fan (well one in the know!),  would consider Miller anything but a great dancer,  but I suspect that Miller is not as well known as some of the other greats because she wasn't part of a well known team.   

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I agree that any classic film fan (well one in the know!),  would consider Miller anything but a great dancer,  but I suspect that Miller is not as well known as some of the other greats because she wasn't part of a well known team.   

Too bad she didn't play for the Brooklyn Draft Dodgers.

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