Dancing in Hollywood Via MoMA
The history of Hollywood movies is sprinkled with great dancing. And here to tell us about it is Debra Levine, the Los Angeles writer and scholar
whose passion is dance in Hollywood movies. She has breezed into New York to give talks at the Museum of Modern Art’s film series, and brought with her one of the most charismatic dancers on the silver screen—George Chakiris. With his sizzling acting/dancing as Bernardo in the movie West Side Story in 1961, he set many girls’ hearts aflutter. (Mine was one of them.)
At right: A scene from West Side Story, courtesy MoMA.
Today at 4:00 we’ll be treated to a double header. First, Chakiris will introduce the 1953 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, that hilarious gal pal movie in which Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell bond. Chakiris is one of the guys who dances with Marilyn Monroe in her persona-defining number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” It’s sometimes said that choreographer Jack Cole created the Marilyn Monroe mystique by coaching her in the art of sexiness for that number. (In this posting two years ago I called Cole the under-recognized genius of dance in movies.)
Then at 6:45 Debra Levine tells the story of the original Hollywood/dance connection. Apparently the relationship between Hollywood’s biggest tycoon, Cecil B. De Mille, and the Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff ignited the dance craze in Tinseltown. Levine will screen De Mille’s 1930 extravaganza Madame Satan, in which Kosloff plays the bizarre character of Electricity.
Above: Madam Satan, courtesy MoMA.
A fascinating link between ballet and Hollywood, Kosloff worked in movies as a dancer, choreographer and actor for years before becoming a popular ballet teacher. James Cagney, Charles Weidman, and Nana Gollner were his students. Oh, and Cecil's niece, Agnes De Mille.
These screenings are part of MoMA’s 12th Annual International Festival of Film Preservation, this year titled “To Save and Project.” For Levine’s talk and showing of Madame Satan at 6:45, click here.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."