7/9/18 O&A NYC HOLLYWOOD MONDAY: Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse- The Band Wagon’s finale, The Girl Hunt Ballet- A Murder Mystery In Jazz

Hollywood Mondays

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The Band Wagon is a 1953 musical comedy film that many critics rank, along with Singin’ in the Rain, as the finest of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals despite only a modest box-office success. The film tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway play will restart his career. The play’s director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of Faust, and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star.

The songs were written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, and some were created for the original 1931 Broadway musical also called The Band Wagon. The Broadway production featured a book by George S. Kaufman and starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. The movie’s dances and musical numbers were staged by Michael Kidd.

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8/7/15 O&A Shall We Dance Friday: Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal

Shall We Dance

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Smooth Criminal is the seventh single from Michael Jackson’s 1987 Bad album. Jackson originally wanted to make the music video in the western genre, but he later decided after watching “The Third Man” with Director Colin Chilvers to change it to a 1930s gangster style. Jeffrey Daniel of the soul music group Shalamar co-choreographed the Smooth Criminal video with Jackson and Vincent Paterson, who was a back-up dancer in Beat It and Thriller.

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The dance sequence of the video in the 1930s style lounge (and Jackson’s white suit and fedora) pays tribute to the Fred Astaire musical comedy film The Band Wagon. Jackson and some of the dancers around him perform a seemingly impossible forward lean. For the video, this was done using harness cables. To accomplish this maneuver for stage performances, though, Jackson co-patented a hitching mechanism which was built into the floor of the stage and the performer’s shoes.

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Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal

9/22/17 O&A Shall We Dance: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – Top Hat

Shall We Dance

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Top Hat was the most successful picture of Astaire and Rogers’ partnership (and Astaire’s second most successful picture after Easter Parade), achieving second place in worldwide box-office receipts for 1935. While some dance critics maintain that Swing Time contained a finer set of dances, Top Hat remains, to this day, the partnership’s best-known work. Continue reading

1/2/15 O&A Shall We Dance Friday: Storyboard P- An Urban Storyteller

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Storyboard P has pushed street dancing in a darker, more mature direction of urban storytelling he calls Mutant. The twenty-three year old Brooklyn dancer  combines jarring feats of contortion, pantomime, floating footwork and simulated levitation. His choreography, most of it improvised, has a wide range of influences: Jerome Robbins, especially his work in West Side Story; the Nicholas Brothers, whose acrobatic tap-dancing routines amazed Fred Astaire in the nineteen-forties; and, above all, Michael Jackson.  Continue reading

9/19/14 O&A Shall We Dance Friday: Michael Jackson- Smooth Criminal

Shall We Dance

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Smooth Criminal is the seventh single from Michael Jackson’s 1987 Bad album. The song contains a fast-paced beat intertwined with Jackson’s lyrics. It was released as a single on October 24, 1988, and peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. Continue reading

9/15/14 O&A Hollywood Monday: The Band Wagon: Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse

Hollywood Mondays

The_Band_Wagon-669013880-large

The Band Wagon is a 1953 musical comedy film that many critics rank, along with Singin’ in the Rain, as the finest of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals despite only a modest box-office success. The film tells the story of an aging musical star who hopes a Broadway play will restart his career. The play’s director wants to make it a pretentious retelling of Faust, and brings in a prima ballerina who clashes with the star.

The songs were written by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, and some were created for the original 1931 Broadway musical also called The Band Wagon. The Broadway production featured a book by George S. Kaufman and starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. The movie’s dances and musical numbers were staged by Michael Kidd.

Continue reading

Out and About with Walter Rutledge: Clive Thompson The Early Years- Life In Jamaica

By Walter Rutledge

Clive Thompson literally began performing before he worn his first pair of long pants.

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