By Marilyn Ferdinand
It’s time for Ferdy on Films to send a meme out into the world and watch it grow! Everyone knows how much I love dance. I’m here to tell you who my top 15 dancers in the movies are. And I’d like to know yours as well. Simply come up with a list, put your link in the comments, and link back to this post on your blog. I’ll link up everyone who participates. And don’t forget to tag four (4) more blogs. (I tag Pat at Doodad Kind of Town, Greg at Cinema Styles, Rick at Coosa Creek Cinema, and Nathaniel R at The Film Experience.)
In no particular order:
1-2. Cristina Hoyos/Antonio Gades
This smoldering couple from Spain mesmerize movie audiences, most significantly in the dance films of Carlos Saura. Each dances individually to great effect, but together they put the flame in flamenco:
3. Cyd Charisse
This tall drink of dynamite from Texas brings a ballerina’s grace to every type of dance style she’s called upon to perform. I like this clip because it shows how beautifully she adds an extra-long train on her costume to her performance. It looks easy, but it ain’t.
4. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
This legendary duo is really a single entity. Fred had a great career as a dancer with other partners and when dancing alone, but he and Ginger formed that perfect union on film everyone remembers best. Here’s a favorite dance from my favorite Astaire-Rogers film, Swing Time.
5-6. Gene Kelly/Donald O’Connor
Both of these dancers have energy and personality cubed. I give just a slight edge to Kelly for technique, and a small lead to O’Connor for being more fun to watch. Together, they can’t be beat.
7. Moira Shearer
This lovely prima ballerina was enticed into pictures when Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger hinted that they really wanted someone else to play the lead in The Red Shoes. She liked it so much, she came back for more. Here she is in their The Tales of Hoffman in a simply charming role that shows she was a great actress through her dancing.
8-9. George Chakiris/Rita Moreno
George Chakiris is one of the most technically accomplished dancers in musical theatre and movies, as well as being a handsome and compelling presence. Rita Moreno is life itself on a stage. Together, they make West Side Story’s “America” the most electrifying number in a film full of them.
10. Eleanor Powell
A whirling dervish with the fastest feet I’ve ever seen, Powell “laid ’em down like a man,” according to the dancer she most compares with, Fred Astaire. This ego-free dance shows she’d even dance with a dog; in fact, she trained him and is performing in her own living room.
11. James Cagney
There was nothing James Cagney couldn’t do, and that includes dancing. He didn’t get many chances to do it, but when he did, sparks flew off his feet just as strongly as they came out of the barrel of his gun. His eccentric dancing style is quite a bit more controlled than Bob Hope in the duet at the end of this clip.
Hines always invests his tap dancing with a lot of emotion. In this scene from The Cotton Club, we feel the intensity of Hines’ thoughts as he performs a tricky dance sequence that is intercut with his own memories.
13. Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron was a lovely ballerina whose greatest gift was the feeling she put into her dance. I chose this clip to show that dance can be great without all the pyrotechnics we’ve become conditioned to expect. The final minute-thirty of this dance is gut-wrenching.
She of the tiny waist, Vera-Ellen has a lightness to her dancing that makes tap dancing on her toes seem a logical extension of her comfort in the air. Every move she makes is finished, the mark of a flawlessly trained and dedicated dancer.
15. Bob Fosse
Fosse’s film career saw him move from an accomplished dancer, to a budding choreographer evolving his style, to this: Fosse fully formed in The Little Prince.
Pat’s list is now up at Doodad Kind of Town.
Greg’s list is now up at Cinema Styles.
Here’s Miranda Wilding’s list at Cinematic Passions.
Rick has posted his at Coosa Creek Cinema.
See Ryan Kelly’s list of favorite dances here at Medfly Quarantine.
Doug Bonner from Postmodern Joan is a new visitor here, and I have a feeling he and I are going to be hanging out at each other’s blogs from now on. Here is his inspired list of dancers/choreographers. Thanks, Doug.