Great Hollywood Musicals-Then & Now: Part 2

11 Jul

By Littlebells

In Part 1 I discussed the beginnings of Hollywood musicals and the films that have had long standing reign in Hollywood history.  Today I will focus on several of the performers and those behind the scenes who gave these musicals breath and life as well as great contributions to cinema.

Gene Kelly

Gene brought an athletic and masculine quality to his dancing style, which changed how male dancers were perceived. No longer did dance mean one had to dance effeminately.  A great example of this is the scene in the ballet clips of An American in Paris:

Please click here to see video.

Kelly experimented with lighting and camera techniques trying to integrate dance and film he was one of the first to use split screens, double images, live action and animation.  Kelly freed up the camera and without sacrificing full-figure framing, he allowed the camera to follow the dancer.  He believed in the kinetic force of live dance and wanted to try and bring that to the screen.

If the camera is to make a contribution at all to dance, this must be the focal point of its contribution; the fluid background, giving each spectator an undistorted and altogether similar view of dancer and background. To accomplish this, the camera is made fluid, moving with the dancer, so that the lens becomes the eye of the spectator, your eye.[1]

In 1982 Kelly won a Life Time Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors and in 1985 won an AFI Life Achievement award.

Busby Berkeley

Berekely is known for his use of camera, large productions with beautiful women, and geometrical choreography.

Please click here to see video.

Please click here to see video.

Berkeley only liked to use one camera when filming and liked to do close ups of the chorus girls.  He is well known for his aerial shots and geometric shapes:

This use of cinematography forced him to drill holes in the studio roofs.[2] It was as if looking down a kaleidoscope!  Any dancer who has ever been a part of a large production number can thank Busby Berkeley!  Every chorus girl at the time wanted to be a “Berkeley girl”.

Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers

These two are to this day still the greatest dancing duo of American film history.  Though independent actors, together they formed a successful partnership that spanned 6 years and 10 films.  Their films incorporated ballroom, tap, ballet, and vaudeville.  Katherine Hepburn once said of their style, “He gives her class and she gives him sex.”  Astaire and Rogers believed dance was the perfect form of movement because it balanced in perfect harmony the “greatest freedom and most energy”.[3]  Astaire believed in full-framing of the body, as can be seen in the following video.  Also note the use of no cuts or edits throughout the entire routine.

Please click here to see video.

  Judy Garland

Most of us know Judy Garland for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, but she also starred in several movie musicals alongside Mickey Rooney.  Known for her magnificent and strong voice, she has had songs written for her specifically by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Harry Warner, and Jerry Herman.  In 1962 she won the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes.[4]

Please click here to see video.

Bob Fosee

Fosee has been mimicked and copied ever since he left his mark on the dance world.  You can see the flip of his wrist, flip of a hat, and swivel of the hip in many of today’s modern choreography.  Chicago and Beyonce’s Single Ladies are just a few of his works still being used today.  Fosee is known for his use of hats (he started going bald at the age of 17) and gloves (he did not like his hands).[5]

The influence of these amazing artists* can be seen in many Hollywood actors that came in the latter half of the 20th Century:

Patrick Swayze, Gregory Hines, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Julie Andrews, and Shirley Jones.

The talent of Kelly, Berkeley, Astaire, Rogers, and Garland cannot be faked.  It cannot be enhanced with CGI, 6 weeks of intro to dance, or computerized vocals.  It takes time and dedication to develop style, technique, and performance quality. This is pure talent at its apex.  

Do the performers of today have the same je ne sais quois?  Zack Efron has shown his capabilities in this field, as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones.  I believe the talent exists, but for whatever reason, it is not being exposed properly.   Are there other actors in Hollywood today that meet the criteria as being a “triple threat”?  Are their skills in singing, dancing, and acting highly developed or do they “fake it to make it”?  Do you think if these classics were brought to the silver screen today that they would be successful or has our society become too desensitized to vulgarity, violence, and sex?

 *other great performers not included in the article are Vera-Ellen, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, and Doris Day.

 Please join us for a discussion on this topic Tuesday 7/12/2011@7pE/12UTC

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144 Responses to “Great Hollywood Musicals-Then & Now: Part 2”

  1. comic relief July 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM #


    This isn’t a feature film but what do you think of musical TV. Actually this may not be a musical, it’s definitely a drama that has musical performances (shouldn’t the music have to help tell the story)? What do you think?

    • Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM #


      That is a great question! I will get back to you on this, especially after I have had a chance to watch the video. 🙂

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 4:55 PM #

      OH MY GOSH!!!!! Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my goooooooooosh!!!! If this is an inkling of something even more fantastic of what’s to come I am totally in!!!! This is WHAT it is all about, imo. I know people like GLEE, but this show seems to be telling more of a story with it’s songs. GLEE (and please don’t hate me readers) is more about inserting songs just randomly and being for show. Ok, I have to word this differently. SMASH looks like it is taking musical theater and really incorporating it into the story. I don’t feel like we are going to see a dance or a song that “we have mastered in 5 minutes of getting our sheet music in class and wow all of a sudden we have sets and costumes.”

      CR, I am really excited about this show. I love Katherine McPhee and I am so excited she is FINALLY being showcased properly with her amazing talent. That’s what it comes down to, imo. Taking amazing talent and really giving it the proper movie to shine.

      Thank you so much! I am bookmarking this page. 🙂

      • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 4:55 PM #

        I still don’t think I worded that very well, but I tried. 😦

        • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 5:52 PM #

          I’m sure I understood.

  2. Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 1:00 PM #

    For new and returning readers: I want to make a special point about my comment regarding “computerized vocals”. In the Golden Age of musicals there was no way to enhance someone’s voice or make a flat note sound better. One had to truly be able to sing. With today’s technology it is easy to make a singer sound better, or sometimes, sound good at all.

  3. Parisienne July 11, 2011 at 5:40 PM #


    Awesome Article! Judy Garland will always be dorothy for me.
    In the clip that you show imo liza sounds just like her and she also forgot the words. 🙂

    • Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 7:22 PM #

      THanks Paris!

      I would like to mention that I know there isn’t much in this article about Judy Garland. I wish I could have included more, but honestly, she is her own article. But let’s pleeeeease talk about her in our discussion!

      And yes, Liza had a voice nearly identical to her mother’s. It will be sad when we lose her too. I honestly don’t have that many modern day singers that I admire for their quality of voice. We pump them out like a machine. I would love to hear any of today’s female pop stars sing a ballad and sustain a note without trilling all over the place….

  4. comic relief July 11, 2011 at 7:03 PM #


    I forgot to tell you, wonderful like your previous article, this article doesn’t need anymore cowbell!

    More Cowbell! – watch more funny videos
    • Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

      Oh just you wait! I have a youtube that is priceless!!!!!! 🙂 And I’m DYING to show it!

      • comic relief July 11, 2011 at 9:55 PM #

        Do it!!!!!!

  5. comic relief July 11, 2011 at 7:04 PM #

    You know I can’t believe I ask you about a show “SMASH” that isn’t even out yet, while in many people’s eyes “GLEE” is a smash hit. I’ve never seen more than 5 minutes of the show and most of my friends don’t admit to watching the show. I’m a fan of many musicals (“Wizard of OZ”, “Sound of Music”, “West Side Story”, “The Wiz”, “Greese”, etc.) Do you have any idea why is it I can’t get into GLEE? Do you like it?

    • Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 7:14 PM #

      Where do I even begin!!!???? I liked it the first season and then it all went down hill for me. Let me grasp the unorganized matter in my brain and I promise to get back on this question as well!

      And you can NEVER have enough cowbell!!!!! hahahahaha!!! 🙂

  6. comic relief July 11, 2011 at 7:05 PM #

    I’m really glad you incorporated contemporary musicals like “High School Musical.” I saw one of those movies on DVD. I heard Zac Ephron turned down “Footloose.” I don’t understand that when it appeared he wanted to be considered an acting, song and dance man. He did more than one Basketball Movie, what was wrong with the “Footloose” remake? Is there something the audience should know?

  7. Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 7:19 PM #

    I think Zac was afraid of not being taken seriously or stereotyped or both. Obviously I don’t know the man and maybe he thought remaking a classic would be career suicide. The trailer looks good, so I’m hoping beyond all hope that it does well. The remake of Fame did not fair well at all! Going back to Zac, I think he did enough musicals with HSM. I think he may be willing to do more musical films, but he may just be wanting to do more serious work and really strengthen himself as an actor. I get that.

  8. Open Book July 11, 2011 at 9:42 PM #

    I can’t wait for this discussion! I have so many Q……What a great topic to start out the week.

  9. Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 10:00 PM #

    Hey just so everyone knows, I have to leave by 7:45 EST. to get to swim lessons. However, I will be back once I am done for follow ups! I will answer as many questions as I can before I go, so if you need to make a list or want to post them now, I can start working on them.

    Also, I am saving this youtube until everyone is present and accounted for. My poor husband wondered what I was crying for!!! hahaha!!! 🙂

    • Littlebells July 11, 2011 at 11:29 PM #

      looking up info on Hollywood musicals on google for back up info and part 1 is no. 8 on the search engine!!! Can I quote myself? hahaha! 🙂

  10. Open Book July 12, 2011 at 1:40 PM #

    Hi LB-

    U asked: “Are there other actors in Hollywood today that meet the criteria as being a “triple threat?”

    Answer: Please don’t scream but Justin Timberlake might be someone to consider as a triple threat? Others are Jesse Martin and Rosario Dawson who both appeared in Rent. Also Anika Noni Rose she was in Dreamgirls and Jennifer Hudson but I don’t think she dances.

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

      No, I completely agree! I ask because I know they are out there but my mind always draws a blank. 🙂

      Honestly, I love Justin as a performer. I think he has it all!

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 3:09 PM #


        I’m responding to Open Book’s question only because I think you know enough about this topic to make it interesting.

        I believe Anika Noni Rose, Jesse Martin and Rosario Dawson have already proven themselves on the stage.

        This question presupposes nothing about Justin Timberlake or Jennifer Hudson.

        Of course, the more powerful the singer the better… what can that hurt? But correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to require a range of skills to be a stage performer. I imagine some studio musicians can adapt to the stage but aren’t there some requirements that will make it hard for some to make this transition?

  11. Open Book July 12, 2011 at 2:18 PM #

    U Said: “Do you think if these classics were brought to the silver screen today that they would be successful or has our society become too desensitized to vulgarity, violence, and sex?”

    Answer: I think music and movies are viewed with a sense of irony and cynicism which make older musicals appear naive today. I think it would be impossible to recreate some musicals that are too accomplished and should never be remade like Sound of Music, Singin in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz. IDK-Perhaps 42nd street or Gold Diggers could be re-made? i think audiences like to cheer for the little guy so 42nd street could definitely be successful Gold Diggers was about sex, money and power and could easily appeal to audiences today as well. What do u think?

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 2:47 PM #

      SoM,SR, and TWoZ should NEVER BE TOUCHED! I wonder how many people would actually go see them on the big screen if they were re-released.

      I would love to see 42nd Street and Gold Diggers remade! We can talk more about this later. 🙂

      • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:50 PM #

        I don’t think Singing in the Rain should be remade but if it did it would probably look like these.

        • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

          • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM #

            just out of curiousity how old is the performer?

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

            very cool.

        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:54 PM #


        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM #

          Here’s the thing Ozzie!

          There is a point where things get so played out because everyone is no longer being original. Instead everyone wants to just fit in or be like everybody else. What happened to being different? Now everyone will settle for knock offs instead of couture!!

          • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

            I’m sorry this is in response to the Singin in the Rain commercial!!

            • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:20 PM #

              Lol, I agree!

              That advert though was quite cleverly done and at the time no one had done one like it. They hired a dancer roughly the same build then superimposed Gene Kelly’s face on the dancer.

              • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:22 PM #

                the film editor should some props too!!!!!!

                • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

                  Yup! Just found out it was aired in 2005.

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:31 PM #

            “COUTURE”!!!! Ugh oh, someone’s pulling out the fashion guns, when this kind of passion is being expressed everyone better be ready to duck when stuff eventually starts flying.

            That was a warning from someone who has seen this kind of thing happen before.

            • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:33 PM #

              the previous statement was a response to Open Book.

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:20 PM #

      OB, do you think there is anything wrong with having a bit of naivete (sp?) in films today?

      • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 6:50 PM #

        Well I think after the invention of TV. People got a chance to see what was happening in the world around them. I think in America after the 70’s and Vietnam people no longer wanted to be lied too. Unfortunately,for some classical musicals is still a reminder when Americans were not as sophisticated about the world around them!! Plus the idea of breaking out in song in the middle of a crisis is a bit hard to fathom for today’s audiences when everything is settled with sex, money and violence.

        In other words we have gotten use to a short hand way of communicating and foreplay like dancing and singing takes too long when u have 90 minutes to tell a story. Unless u combine sex with dancing like “Dirty Dancing” or violence with dancing like Chicago or Moulin Rouge etc…Does that make sense?

        • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:59 PM #

          Yes, yes it does. 😦

  12. comic relief July 12, 2011 at 3:21 PM #

    Why is it that popular 6O’s musicals like “Hair”, “Jesus Christ Super Star”, and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” receive so few film adaptations?

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:00 PM #

      Honestly CR, I was just thinking about “Joseph…” I would love to see someone bring that to the screen. It has such terrific music and dances and I really think it could be incredible.

      With “Hair”, I honestly have not seen it all the way through. For some reason it never fully interested me and unless they revamped the story line to make it more modern, I don’t know how many people would want to watch a musical about the hippie movement. But that is totally my opinion!!!

      Passions of the Christ was very controversial and I don’t think many faithful Christians would want to see Mary Magdalene portrayed as a whore in JCSS. I don’t think studios want another religious controversy on their hands.

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 6:16 PM #

        I believe “Joseph”, is the only one that was never a film.

        Like you I tried “Hair” and “Jesus Christ” when I was a youngster but unfortunately I wasn’t mature enough.

        In a few years maybe I’ll give it another try.

  13. comic relief July 12, 2011 at 3:22 PM #

    Do you consider Bollywood movies musicals or long form music videos?

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:03 PM #

      I consider them a form of music video. I guess they could be considered musicals. I’m really not good with the Bollywood movies. I will go do some research….

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 6:03 PM #

        Honestly I haven’t seen enough Bollywood either. I’m trying to figure this out; as though a mathematical formula should be applied.

        Like at least 50% of the dialogue should move the story along, random musical performances (if they take more than 20% of the overall screen time) should start to erase points earned for moving the narrative… etc. etc. etc.

        The Bollywood movies I did see were extremely energetic and a lot of fun… for all I know they may not even think about hollywood musicals.

        • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:45 PM #

          Wow, um, I wouldn’t even begin to know the calculations! I think with musicals, the singing and dancing is just an extension of dialogue, but fully enhanced by the use of music and dance. Lyrics are usually very much a part of the story line. I think it’s a very fine line that I am not able to answer…..let me see what I can find…..

          • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:50 PM #

            Ok,ok, ok, this is what I’ve got: songs in musicals help advance the plot and dance is just an extension of that energy. Most normal people move to music. It’s instinct. It is also used to help develop an actor’s character. What they sing, how they sing it help us better understand a character. Sometimes musical numbers are inserted just for entertainment value but really have no other purpose. I think with music videos….Oh I really have no idea, so I’m just gonna stop there. 🙂

            • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 6:56 PM #


              U were on a roll….. Please continue!!

              • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

                I have no professional idea what I was going to say!!! haha! I just think music videos are a way of expressing a song or story but shorter and when it’s over it’s over.

  14. comic relief July 12, 2011 at 3:22 PM #

    Why is that Hollywood seems to have such a disposable attitude toward fairly recent movies like “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Cabaret”, “Evita”, “Pennies from Heaven”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and “Everyone Says I love you”.

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:10 PM #

      I honestly don’t know. I was actually watching some clips from RHPS last night and I think it really does require a unique taste. It did not do well in theaters. It wasn’t until a year or two later that it became a cult classic for midnight showings. I’ve never watched the whole thing because it’s realm of strangeness is REALLY far out there! 🙂

      I enjoyed “Cabaret” and “Evita”, but I more or less like the big somewhat campy, not so serious musicals. The material for most of these films you mentioned is more mature and serious. Great numbers and I love the dances in “Cabaret”, but to this day “singin’ in the Rain” is still the number one musical. We can come back to this as well. I’m sort of short fusing at the moment! LOL!

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 5:49 PM #


        Thank you so much. I had a girlfriend (or maybe that’s being too generous) who was a RHPS freak. She went to the midnight showings all of the time before I met her, (I wouldn’t go with her). She really thought Tim Curry was great which ate up my insides (she likes Tim Curry, and what ….. she thinks I’m desirable). God, that was a terrible period in my life.

        I really needed someone to be objective about the whole thing. Thanks for the therapy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

        I’d get a clip but I don’t want to relapse.

        • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:38 PM #

          hahahaha!! That’s awful! Gotta say though, that was Tim’s film debut and he nailed it. I read the story line and wow, it’s just…wow. Coockoo! Coockoo! 🙂

          Hey I see that JCSS is “In development”. Yeah, I just don’t see it happening and being all that successful. Again for the truly Christian, Jesus isn’t seen as the Son of God but just a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I don’t get it…..Even when my high school did it, it was sort of “eh”.

          and at IMDB

  15. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 4:44 PM #

    CR You are on a roll! And if by chance I can’t get all your questions answered before I leave this evening, I will do so on my return. I”m going back to your very first question at the top of the posts. 🙂

  16. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:15 PM #

    Has there ever been a female tape dancer since Ann Miller?

    I don’t believe there has and it seems tap is one of the harder dances to find true talent. Tap is a dance form that no matter what, you cannot fake it! You can fake the moves but NOT the sound! Gregory Hines’s style is more flat footed where in the 1930s and 40s it was the old Hoofer style. Either way, you can’t cheat the dance. You either have it or you don’t.

    I know “Pennies from Heaven” tried this style but somehow it didn’t have the same effect. It’s a little over 6 minutes but well worth the watch. Also do not ask me what happens to the lady at the end!! 🙂 LOL!

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 5:21 PM #

      Ann Miller: can you think of anyone that comes close????

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 6:05 PM #

        Wow, she’s on fire. Is it a musical if she does n’t ocassionally sing or speak.

        • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:33 PM #

          Generally, most dances are introduced by song and then there’s a “dance break”. Sometimes not. I’ve got lots of youtubes for this evening!

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 6:38 PM #

            Chuckle, chuckle, just thought I would ask. Feel free to roll that tape when ever you’re ready.

            • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:40 PM #

              Oh believe me, I have a whole intro for it. I need everyone here because it’s just one of those we all have to view it at the same time. I’ve been quoting lines from it to Ozzie for the last few days. Don’t be surprised if I start using some here…..

            • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 6:47 PM #

              Speaking of rolling tape how about this clip, your article talked about how athletic Gene Kelley was. Woody Allen is giving Gene a run for his money in this clip.

              • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:57 PM #

                HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh my gosh!!!! I’ve never seen this!!! Wow! I should have written about Woody not Gene! HAHAHAHA! 🙂

                • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:17 PM #

                  This is hilarious CR!!

                  • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:57 PM #


      • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

        Just amazing I’m dizzy just watching this. LOL!!

        • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

          woody allen has a thing for Paris.

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

            …hmmm, I guess it takes one to know one….

  17. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:43 PM #


    Wow! Your really are making up for lost time, aren’t you! LOL! It’s good because I’m dancing around the internet finding all the 411.

    What do you think of the artists in the article? What productions have you enjoyed them in? What are some of your favorite musical moments?
    (Please someone for the love of Bob Fosse, mention him, so I can seque in my special video!)

    Who did I leave out (yeah, it would have been a 10 page article) that you admire in film musicals whether on the screen or behind the scenes?

    • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:02 PM #

      Hmm! I really, really liked Chicago!! And……..

      • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:05 PM #

        I love you for posting this! Yes, yes, and YEEEEEES!

        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:07 PM #

          Do I get a prize??? LOL!!

          • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

            Yes, you win:


            • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM #


  18. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:54 PM #

    CR, here is a perfect example of a song and dance propelling the story and giving us character development:

    • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

      …that was really special.

  19. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 6:57 PM #

    Ok, I’m going to stop for right now and let everyone who is joining get caught up! 🙂

  20. Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Littlebells, did you know that Ann Reinking and Bob Fosse were lovers?

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:01 PM #

      YES! And I loved watching his autobiographical film, “All That Jazz!”

      Hi, btw!!!!

      • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:04 PM #


    • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:06 PM #

      Hi Paris, CR and LB!!

      • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:08 PM #

        Hi OpenBook!

        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:11 PM #

          Yeah! We are finally here together. This is going to be fun!!

      • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:08 PM #

        Hello all! Just catching up with the videos.

        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:09 PM #

          Hi Ozzie!!

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM #

            Hi Ozzie.

            • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:21 PM #

              Hi OB and CR!

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:12 PM #

        Hi OB and Paris

        Sorry I was lost in the clips.

        • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM #

          me too CR! how are you?

          • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:16 PM #

            Very good. Thanks for asking.

  21. Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:06 PM #

    Welcome new and returning visitors. Please join in!! All comments are welcomed we just ask that u keep it clean.

  22. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM #

    Yay!!! We are all here. Ozzie, you’ve already seen the video, so I’m going to go ahead and post this for everyone.

    Now, before you watch this, there’s some info you need to know. This dance “Mexican Burrito” was performed by Bob Fosse’s former wife, Gwen Verdon, on the Ed Sullivan Show. She is accompanied by two dancers. It was this dance that Beyonce admitted to structure her video. Now the creator of this video is a genius. In choreography sometimes if dancer doesn’t get the move or understand how to really portray it, the choreographer will say, Pretend you are holding a try” or “you are giving the cold shoulder”. The dance is awesome because well, I’m a Fosse enthusiast, but it’s what’s written on the screen that is the true entertainment. For each dance step, there is something written. You may have to watch it a few times.

    And without further ado, I bring you “Mexican Breakfast”:

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:20 PM #

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LittleBells, this is hysterical.

    • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:25 PM #


      • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:31 PM #

        Love this video!

  23. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:22 PM #

    I still fall out of my chair every time!

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

      I cannot tell you how many times I have watched this!!!! Pure Gold! 🙂

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

      I can see some of that being said to actor’s/actresses. “Stand back i’m about to discharge.” LOL

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:25 PM #

        what… sixties tape, modern type…

        Very funny.

        • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM #

          I think this style took till the 70’s to get here. The only famous dancers I know who dance like that are Pan’s People. I would post a video but I’m not sure if some of the outfits are safe!

  24. Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:24 PM #


    What is it about Bob Fosse’s dance style that you like so much? In your opinion why is he considered one of the greats?

  25. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

    I think I like his dance style because it uses the body in very different ways from traditional dance. It’s almost geometrical. Just a simple nod of the head and the angle of the body could have a lot of impact. He also uses very visual lines in his dancing. It’s a style that can’t be sloppy. It’s very precise and controlled.

    • Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

      He was a great dancer as well. Some moves just became used because they were characteristic of how Fosse moved when he danced.

    • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:32 PM #

      Beautifully said LB!!

  26. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

    CR, yes Westside Story was very special and should never be remade. I know we talk about how no one breaks out into song and dnace randomly on the street, but when you are watching a musical, you just have to throw that idea out the window and enjoy the “what if you did have your own personal orchestra following you around?…”

    This clip definitely set the tone of the Jets and Sharks:

  27. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 7:36 PM #

    EVeryone! I am so sorry I have to go! I promise to come back after swim lessons and get caught up and answer any other questions. Enjoy the rest of the discussion. Thank you for all your wonderful questions! 🙂

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM #

      bye ttys!

    • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM #

      Talk to you later. Have fun!

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:44 PM #

        See you LB,

        I’m going to ask an out of left field question. I know it may be different if you are learning a routine but how is it when you are trying to create one?

        Because I have no performing history, I don’t know how these things are organized so I’m asking are their methodological ways to begin composing a singing or dancing scene.

        Maybe it isn’t that mechanical, but for some reason I assume there are some established way of beginning a composing or choreographing effort?

        Am, I wrong or and I right? I understand this might be a complicated question.

        • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:48 PM #

          I have no idea. Ozzie or Paris u want to take this one?

          • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:13 PM #

            Well, in all the dancing I’ve done, learning and creating is roughly done in the same way, step by step! When learning a dance, music is broken down in to sections of beats. Usually its 4/4 but it can be 3/4 (that’s your waltz dances but some other styles fall into it depending on the rhythm of the music). The teacher repeats, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 over and over while sshowing you the steps and while you learn. Once you’ve learned that set of beats you move onto the next ones. The music is played intermittedly so you can see how it goes with the music. It’s roughly played 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and then the whole song as you reach those stages in learning the dance. Then it’s repeat the dance over and over till you get it perfect!

            I haven’t really created many dances but usually you feel the music and see in your mind’s eye how the dance should go and fill in the blanks, but again you still have the beat numbers running through your mind.

            • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:20 PM #

              Oh so, in dance, you compose in time. Thank you so very very very much. Maybe LB will know music and maybe she will specify how different that effort is. All that’s missing is scene development and maybe that’s done with writing.

              I still don’t know but I’m willing to let this go…. for now.

              • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

                Here’s an exmple. I forgot that the names of the steps are said shorter or longer to express the beats used in that step.

                Here’s an example!

                • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:45 PM #

                  Thanks Ozzie. I’m learning so much on this site, I’ve never had anyone illustrate something like this for me before.

                  • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

                    Of course this makes me want to know how a filmed musical number is composed again.

                    Francesa maybe you or LB can fill that in?

                  • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

                    You’re welcome! 🙂

    • Open Book July 12, 2011 at 7:46 PM #

      Bye LB! Thank U!

  28. comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:47 PM #

    Sorry……………….. “Am I wrong or am I right?”

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 7:51 PM #


      I don’t know i’ve never created one. Sorry. But i would think you are right. I know its different but i don’t know.

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 7:57 PM #

        Maybe Ozzie knows. I have no idea but I assume you start off some where. I know visual artists start off on paper making sketches, writers make notes on paper. Since a performing artist isn’t confined to either of these things I wonder where do they start?

  29. Open Book July 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM #


    I have to go but will check back tomorrow. This was fun LB!!!

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 8:26 PM #

      bye Open Book!

      • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

        Bye OB!

  30. Francesa July 12, 2011 at 8:36 PM #

    Hello everyone! I am running so late..Trying to get caught up on comments.

    • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM #

      Hi Francesa.

    • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:39 PM #

      Hello Francesa!

    • Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

      hi francesa!

  31. Francesa July 12, 2011 at 8:45 PM #

    My sister used to help with the dance team at the school she teaches at. She normally would listen to the song that they were going to use and write down what she felt, like happy, sad, mad etc. then take those emotions and put 8 count combinations together for each emotion within the song Not sure if that makes much sense. She took dance lessons for the better part of her life. So I don’t know….

    • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 8:53 PM #

      Should I assume this means composing in time with some written descriptive activity also. This sounds potentially very complicated. I guess if their was some schematic sketching as well I would not be surprised. Thanks Francesa.

      • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM #

        Yes, some people write down the steps or draw stick figures as notes to remember. Some people are lucky and pick it up straight away. There isn’t really a right or wrong way but a dancer will repeat the dance over and over until it’s fully memorised and perfect as well before it’s performed.

    • ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 8:55 PM #

      That sounds right and makes perfect sense!

      • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM #

        Thanks for the confirmation. This is facinating, can’t wait for LB to add.

        • comic relief July 12, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

          Unfortunately I need to go now.
          Catch of you later LB.

          Bye all.

  32. Parisienne July 12, 2011 at 9:04 PM #

    bye everyone!

  33. ozzie20 July 12, 2011 at 9:07 PM #

    Ok, I’m off now but I do have one last question for LB! The people in you mentioned in your article at some point in their careers went behind the camera to direct and film dances? If so, I didn’t know that!

    Take care all!

  34. Littlebells July 12, 2011 at 10:36 PM #

    great comments everyone and I will get to the questions later tonight!

    Better late than never, Francesa! I hope you had a good day. 🙂

  35. Littlebells July 13, 2011 at 12:08 PM #

    Ok, so I have lots of thoughts and questions to answer. If I forget one, let me know!

    Ozzie and Francesa gave you lots of good info on creating dances. Just to add my two cents, I think it’s different for each choreographer. Some have the whole vision in their head and some create on the spur of the moment by listening and feeling the music. Some like to write it out and others just pull from their brain. Dance is actually very mathematical. Like Ozzie mentioned, we count in beats. Within the rhythm of the actual music, there is also a “rhythm” in the moves. Some dance steps are repeated, like a “chorus” in a song, but not always. However, dancers find their own ryhthm. Along with muscle memory, it is that rhythm that allows a dancer to memorize steps and choreography.

    The same goes with music. I actually don’t know how to write or read music. I only learned songs by listening to them a few times. Sometimes lyrics are written to already created music and sometimes it’s the other way around. I have always found that songs have the most impact in how a singer uses the words and music to their advantage. Whether musical theater, music videos or radio songs, the passion and emotion a singer puts into their words makes a song memorable.

    For example, listening to Judy Garland, her voice is believable and full of emotion. She tells a story and doesn’t just sing a song. You can see her “get lost” in the lyrics and that’s what you want to see in a performer.

    Other great performers I wasn’t able to add to our list is Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Rosemary Clooney.

    • comic relief July 14, 2011 at 11:07 AM #


      Regarding how these performances are made, thanks for returning to make your contribution to the discussion.

      After years of listening to people tell me creative types are flakes or air heads, it’s great to see one more piece of evidence that these entertainers have their own developmental calculus for making great art.

      • Littlebells July 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM #

        You are very welcome. I don’t think anyone would dare call Justin Timberlake “flakey” or an “airhead”. An artists mind and talents just use a different part of the brain, but we are still smart and savvy.

        • comic relief July 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM #

          I couldn’t have said it better.

  36. Littlebells July 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM #

    On my way home from swim lessons (they were great by the way!), my brain was doing it’s usual bounce from one idea to another and this is what I came up with.

    I think despite talent that is out there for HW musicals, there are two things preventing them from being as successful as the past:

    1) society


    2) the 30s-50s were the apex of that generations talent. That’s why we don’t touch the classics and anything remade bombs. HW musicals are a thing of the past but we have some wonderful films that are relived through internet and DVD.

    Interestingly enough, if you watch old HW musicals on youtube, you will find pages and pages (not exaggerating) of comments where both young and old write, “They don’t make them like they used to!”, “That was REAL talent!”, and “I wish I didn’t have to see kids shaking their booty in my face.” Musicals may be campy and hokey, but the actors didn’t play it that way. Sure they had fun! But they played their character so real and therefore we were able to escape into that realm of fantasy and naivete.

    Last comment before I close up shop here, many films use different takes and we never see a routine done in it’s entirety. Usually. In a lot of the older musicals most dances and songs were done incompletion unless they wanted to change angles.

    CR this is for you: athletic Gene at one of his bests and do not ask me how he did it because he taps AND skates in the same frame!!!! hahaha!

    • Open Book July 13, 2011 at 6:33 PM #


      This is just Wow!!!! Skating and Tap dancing? Let me close my mouth now before it stays that way!!

    • comic relief July 14, 2011 at 10:56 AM #


      Oh, now that’s just crazy!!!!…… it took me a day to finally get that out. OB, you were right, sitting there with your mouth open is unproductive and it really looks dumb. I’m speaking of myself.

      • Littlebells July 14, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

        Uh-yup!!!!! 🙂 Now close your mouths before the flies fly in. I don’t need you to gagging on me, now.

  37. Littlebells July 13, 2011 at 3:52 PM #

    Ok, I lied. I’m not done. Here are a few more magical HW musical history:


    Open Book said,”There is a point where things get so played out because everyone is no longer being original. Instead everyone wants to just fit in or be like everybody else. What happened to being different?”

    I don’t know, OB, I don’t know. I like being different. It’s much more interesting! 🙂

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