Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Dance Party: Happy Anniversary

I can't believe it myself, but this silly Friday segment will be turning One tomorrow. It was 11/14/08 when I began presenting a weekly clip featuring some sort of dance. I swiped the idea from my buddy Larry, who presented dance clips on his personal blog for several months before giving up the ghost. I, however, can never let go of anything, so the Friday Dance Party continues in these pages.

The segment evolved rapidly into a place where I could showcase my favorite musical styles. While I have tried to always present a clip with some form of dance involved, I don't really keep to those parameters anymore. So, there are many clips from the past year which had very little, or even NO, dance in them. Whatever, it's my site. One of the most moving of those clips featuring no dance was this one, performed by the winner of that smash hit series, "Ukraine's Got Talent."

That clip is one of my favorites, as is the one featuring Kristin Chenoweth at the Boston Pops (that one has no dance in it, either, but lots of hilarious staging, and man, can that gal belt!). Probably my favorite clip of the year, though, features quite a bit of dancing: it's the sequence from the Tony Awards featuring Grand Hotel, and the late, great Michael Jeter stopping the show cold.

A lot of the clips from the past year have been from the musical stage, as I've grabbed clips from the Tony Awards or various film adaptations or the occasional TV version. Yes, back in the day, musicals were sometimes transplanted to TV with their original stars. Thus, we got a glimpse of Lauren Bacall's triumph in Applause, and Joel Grey's hoofing in George M!, as well as a TV adaptation of J.C.Superstar, just in time for Easter. There were some television stars represented, including a Designing Woman, a Disney cutie, and of course, The Monkees. Even a bubble-headed booby showed up. Not all the clips were meant as tribute; there were a couple which were so dreadful they had to be included. Whoever thought The Brady Bunch should morph into a variety show should have lost his job, and putting a disco number on The Lawrence Welk Show was just plain wrong (but you can't look away). There was even a TV commercial on the Dance Party, a very famous item starring Ann Miller (it's a real hoot, you should watch it).

But as I mentioned, most of the year's clips were from the Broadway stage. We saw everything from A to Z (or rather, A to X: Ain't Misbehavin' to Xanadu). The film versions of West Side Story and 1776 showed up, while the death of Natasha Richardson inspired this grainy clip from the Cabaret revival. When David Carradine went a little too far in that closet and died, I was reminded of his brother's performance in Will Rogers' Follies, and when Jonathan Pryce's birthday coincided with the big GM bailout, Miss Saigon landed. Though they were a bit grainy, I was excited by the clips from Pirates of Penzance and from the original A Chorus Line, because they were clearly filmed LIVE, in front of living, breathing audiences.

As I've spent the week reviewing the past year of Dance Parties, I'm dismayed to discover that several clips have been removed from YouTube due to copyright issues. So, clips from Gypsyand Gilligan's Island, among others, can no longer be accessed. When I have a few hours, I'll go on the hunt to replace them. (You can still click on those links to read what I had to say about those clips, you just can't actually watch them. sigh.)

The remainder of the clips were from the usual suspects, that is, from stars or programs where dancing is not unexpected. Gene Kelly partnered with Julie Andrews, and Fred Astaire partnered with Betty Hutton. There was no surprise when Judy Garland, Vera Ellen, Shirley Temple, Martha Raye, and Baryshnikov showed up, though the Steve Martin tap duet with Gregory Hines was pretty unexpected.

If you want to waste the weekend, you can find all 51 Dance Parties here, including the very first entry, which is quite cute. A year ago, I thought the clips would always feature unknown folks dancing, and while I quickly moved away from that concept, in honor of that first week, here is another amateur Dance Party. Aren't they adorable?

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