Musicals


Gene KellySo a while back Anna suggested something that might help conquer my self-consciousness on the dance floor. I could pick someone I really admired from stage or screen and try to dance like them, maybe one of the movie stars from the old movies I like so much. I started thinking about this, and decided that I wanted to dance like Betty Grable. I didn’t know much about her, but I had an image of her in my head mostly inspired by her classic WW II pinup photo. It was cute, sassy, and classic. Right away it gave me an idea for styling my Balboa basic. Perfect. I made that photo the desktop image on my computer, and started looking for clips of her dancing that I could mine for inspiration.

I started on youtube, where I quickly found several clips. The dancing in them was… ok, but not really inspirational. Maybe she was better in the movies? I raided my local library, coming home with How To Marry A Millionaire and DuBarry Was A Lady. Millionaire is a great movie, but there was no dancing in it. Plus, Grable’s character was kindof annoying – the kind of cutely perky that would make me want to strangle a girl in real life. So I tried DuBarry. Unfortunately, although the Broadway show of DuBarry Was A Lady made Grable’s career, when they made the movie they cast Lucille Ball in her part. Friends, I hated that movie. It was just stupid all the way through. The only really good thing about it was an incredibly young Gene Kelly. There came this moment after the girl finally said she loved him, when he tap danced pure happiness. No, really, he did. It gave me goosebumps. Twelve seconds of pure magic, the best twelve seconds in the movie. I started browsing Gene Kelly dancing vids on youtube, and came across one from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. There was one point where he dances with some young girls, and it looks like they do a bit of a Charleston routine. I watched that and thought, hey, I can do that! Then I got up from my computer and tried. I sortof could. It was awesome.

That was when I realized that I don’t need another dancing muse, I’ve always had one. My sister has a theory that every woman imprints at a very young age on someone from the screen who becomes her own personal archetype of what a man should be. She thinks that she imprinted on Tony Curtis playing the Great Leslie in The Great Race. I’ve always known that I imprinted on Gene Kelly. Only, I’ve always wanted to dance with him, not necessarily like him. Plus, I don’t think there’s any way I could even begin to imitate his athletic style. I’m just not built that way. Still, I could watch him dance forever and be perfectly happy. He amazes me.

So I’m not sure what I’ll do with this. Maybe some footwork variations working off some of the tap stuff he did so well? Maybe something else I’ll pick up? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t really want to dance like Betty Grable, I want to dance like Gene Kelly. If he were a woman. I’m not sure what that means in practical terms. I’ll have to let you guys know.

So for the last forever Liv’s been cramming for this Huge, Important Test she has to take as part of her Master’s. It’s been an ordeal, not least of which is the two days it takes to actually take the thing. A few days ago when I picked her up from another marathon study session at the library, she declared as soon as she got in the car, “I’m gonna flunk this thing. There’s no question. I’m flunking.” I kinda nodded, and as soon as we got home, looked up the facebook group 30 Things To Do In An Exam When You Know You’re Going To Fail Anyway, and started reading her the suggestions. We especially liked #17: “Come to the exam wearing a black cloak. After about 30 min, put on a white mask and start yelling “I’m here, the phantom of the opera” until they drag you away.” After some discussion we decided that it might not be necessary to sing Phantom of the Opera, that perhaps anything by Andrew Lloyd Weber might do. Then the conversation moved on to other things and we didn’t talk about it again.

Yesterday was the first day of the test. When I got home, Liv was there ahead of me, curled up in her favorite chair under her favorite blanket, watching CSI Miami. I asked her if she’d had to sing any Andrew Lloyd Weber. She said no. I said, “Not even anything from Cats? A little ‘Memory’?” Again she said no, and, well, that Horatio Caine has very blue eyes. So that was the end of the conversation.

This morning I took Liv to school for the second day of her test. As I held the body of her wheelchair so she could put on the wheels, our conversation went a little like this:
Me: “And if necessary, there’s always Andrew Lloyd Weber.”
Liv: “Did he write Into The Woods?”
Me: “No, that’s Sondheim.”
Liv: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Very sure.”
Liv: “Well, I like Into The Woods better. And Rent. I like Rent.”
Me: “Well, what about Cats? Or Evita?”
Liv (singing as she’s wheeling away): “Into the woods, into the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go! And home before dark!”
Me (singing after her as I head the opposite direction): “Don’t cry for me, Argentina! The truth is, I never left you!”

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.