C-Jam: Every Body’s Different

This week, Susanne and I hosted dinner for a couple of friends from dancing. As we were talking, we discovered that our friends knew of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, but had never really seen them dance! We were shocked, and quickly went to work to rectify this glaring absence in their dance knowledge. Here is a clip to the only piece that Fred and Gene danced together on film.

One of the things that fascinates me is how different each of these men dance. Fred Astaire had a small frame, and was light on his feet. Gene Kelly had the stocky shoulders of a football player, and pounded into the floor. Each dancer’s body type contributes to their personal style. The same holds true for lindy hoppers as well.

While I wish I had the muscular athleticism of a Gene Kelly, I have come to accept that I’m built a little closer to Fred Astaire (or maybe a Donald O’Connor). My dancing tends to be light and fluid, and I’ve learned how to make the most of that. In classes, Susanne and I can teach all of the fundamentals, but we can only demonstrate the ways our own bodies move. Our hope is that as you explore dancing, you watch other dancers, watch video clips, and experiment to find that expression of dancing that is built on solid fundamentals, and that fits your body and allows you to be expressive. We can’t tell you what that looks like, but we know it will be amazing.

This particular article was originally written in October of 2010 for our local scene in Annapolis.


1 Comment

Filed under C-Jam, lindy hop, Technique, Theory, Video

One response to “C-Jam: Every Body’s Different

  1. Ceste

    I am a huge fan of Fred Astaire…have been since I was a kiddo, but more so after reading his autiobio & seeing all his movies. I agree that you do have more of the frame & style of FA than Gene. I adore Donald O’Connor and think he was one of the most underestimated singers/dancers in Hollywood. If you watch clips of him on youtube esp w/ his partner Peggy Ryan whome he made 10 films w/, the sheer zaniness, free-style, & athleticism of their dancing is astounding. I have yet to see a pic of Donald’s & Peggy’s all the way thru where they are featured. I have only seen Donald’s movies w/o Peggy and seen one movie where they are just briefly seen in Universal’s dance troupe the Jivin’ Jack & Jills. The cutest thing that I think I ever read was the poem that Peggy wrote upon Donald’s death:
    To Donald —
    I don’t know when my tears will dry
    I’m trying hard not to cry
    I miss you so, why did you go
    Part of my life is in the sky
    A shining Star – You really rule
    Why did you replace me with that Damn mule?
    Then Debbie & Mitzi & Monroe what a shame
    But you really nailed “Singing In The Rain”
    We started out when we were young
    Talented us, nothing could go wrong
    We danced, we sang and took Pratt Falls
    You even walked right up a wall!
    This week I lost a lifetime friend
    I loved him to the very end
    We lived a life, We’ve had it all
    But God decided to give him a call
    The Angels needed to learn the Time Step
    So he called Donald, because he was the best.
    So when it’s time to visit Heaven’s Gate
    Be sure to knock 5-6-7-8

    Peggy Ryan
    October 4, 2003
    Donald was wasted in the endless Francis movies. He personally hated them. I think my fav. movie w/ him besides the quintessential Singin’ in the Rain is Call Me Madam. His amazingly rich baritone in his duet w/ Ethel Merman on “I Hear Singing” is phenomenal & all his dances w/ Vera-Ellen are superiorly charged. Donald always said hands down, that she was his fav. partner. The look of sheer joy & admiration on his face for her is quite evident thru/o all their dances.

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