By Peg Doman.
I became really aware of Bob Fosse when I saw “All That Jazz.” I loved every minute: the imaginative staging, the exactly executed dancing, the showing of a dancer/choreographer, Ann Reinking – just the whole spectacle of Fosse. Although Roy Schneider (as Fosse) didn’t dance, it didn’t make any difference to the movie. Here is Ann Reinking and their daughter performing Bob Fosse styling “Everything Old is New Again”.
When I saw the film “Kiss Me Kate” on TV, all over again, I was charmed by the dancing, the singing (I loved the songs!) and the backstage story and humor. In the sequence “From this Moment On” we see Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, and Bob Fosse dancing (Fosse was uncredited for the choreography but has all the best steps and movements) –
When I saw “Chicago,” I was stunned again! The singing, the dancing, the humor, the sly “We all know what’s really going on!” snigger. Again, I was charmed. I love dance movies. Rene Zellweger and the really talented Catherine Zeta Jones (Michael Douglas’s former wife) were good at singing and dancing – Fosse’s choreography. Notice Queen Latifhah getting her bluesy rock on. So masterful. She tells those inmates what’s what and that she controls everything. Enjoy her song “When You’re Good to Mama” – youtu.be/Y-Fz-_lkWzM
“Singing in the Rain” is my favorite movie for so many years. Donald O’Connor when he ran up that ramp and flipped over and never lost a beat – to me he was a better dancer than Kelly. Watch the antics of Donald O’Connor singing and dancing to “Make ’em Laugh” – youtu.be/iGCNBdCvzL4
I loved the scene when all three stars dance Good Morning, Good Morning, just swaying so cleverly, seemingly leaning over their ankles. – youtu.be/Yu6–WBPBHo
I also loved “It’s Always Fair Weather.” Every time it came on, I watched it, every time. Other great dancers were Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd (another choreographer) and Dan Dailey. Watch the trashcan tap dance from “It’s Always Fair Weather.” – youtu.be/D1InfoCfipM
“It’s Always Fair Weather” also had a show stopper with Cyd Cherise dancing and singing in “Baby, You Knock Me Out,” I was stunned. Wowser! I love dance. – youtu.be/h6SqoqS9Xrs
I loved to dance, even when I was much younger. When we lived in France, between kindergarten and third grade, there were dance lessons at the housing community center. I wanted to go so badly. My mom didn’t have the money (something that went on all my life: we were ultimately a family of seven kids), or she didn’t value dance – I don’t know which it was. The only consolation was that one of the kid attendees showed me some of the exercises. For the rest of my live (until decrepitude took over my back) I would lie on the floor and throw my knees over my shoulders. When our kids were very young, as I lay on my back; I’d put them on my lower legs and rock/bounce them up and down. Good exercise and good fun.
When I was old enough to go to dances or even just dance. Pat, my older sister, and I would rush home from school and dance with all those Phillie boys and girls on American Bandstand. I went to those 8th grade dances – such duds). I went to Bellarmine dances but all the boys stood on one side of the gym and stared at us. When I went to St. Martin’s dances as a high school freshman, one night the priest came out and demanded that the dance would not begin until every young lady had a partner. What a guy! Boys are so shy at that age, at least in my adolescence.
One thing I really enjoyed about high school at St. Leo’s was as part of Freshman and/or Sophomore PE period, we’d alternate going to the gym one session each week and go to the Sorority Hall the second session and have dance lessons by a former Arthur Murray Dance instructor. Miss Memmers was a real lady. She wore an old, much loved ratty fur coat, dressed conservatively like a lady, had red-dyed hair that occasionally had grey grow-out, and tucked a handkerchief into her watch band. We learned the waltz, chachacha, schottische, rhumba, two step, and many more.
It stood me in good stead when we moved to Germany when I was a junior and Pat a senior and we had the opportunity to go Fasching (Mardi Gras) with a German girl and her gorgeous older brother Peter. After I graduated, I’d go to German clubs with my boyfriend. Germany was such fun and so much dancing, ruined castles, and Roman sites that were more than 1000 years old (the Trier Roman Baths).
I didn’t really start going to dances until high school. My friends and I at St. Leo’s would go the Crescent Ballroom on South Fawcett and 13th streets. The guys were older there, maybe high school juniors and seniors and some young GIs. We never went home with anyone but our dads.
When I was a freshman, our cousin Dave was stationed at Fort Lewis. He would come over for dinner occasionally and one time he took Pat and me to the Evergreen Ballroom. Keep in mind that I was 14 then. A young guy came over and asked me to dance and took me back and stayed there. Dave asked me why I was letting he hang on to me. I was so inexperienced that I said that “I don’t know what to do. I’m only 14!”. He took care of it. Thanks, Dave.
My dad was so good about taking a gaggle of girls home after the dances. He couldn’t believe a parent would be so calloused as to allow their daughters to have to find a ride home ? not safe! One night, as dad drove up to pick up my friend and me, a girl came up and asked if we could give her ride home. My dad said yes, even though the girl lived way out in south Spanaway and we lived near Cheney Stadium. What a generous guy!
I met my husband at a UPS (University of Puget Sound) end of the school year dance. I was standing there with my tall, thin Canadian friend and Don, a tall drink of sexy water, came over and said, “Would you like to dance?” I looked at him, looked at Penny thinking “Why isn’t she responding?”, looked back at Don and then Penny again and the light finally (drawl finally) came on. Surprised, I said, “Me?” We danced together that evening and went on to spend our life together. We went to the Evergreen Ballroom and danced many times. We joined Tacoma Jaycees when I had three children under 3 and was hungry for adult conversation. We went to Jaycee meetings and events all over the state. Those events usually had a dance. One time I met a Sequim Jaycee that could do swing, WELL!
This is not my whole dance career, but only the early episodes. Occasionally Don and I will dance in the kitchen – no carpets but enough space for us. We still love to dance. I can only repeat, “What a guy!”
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.