Magic from the Archives
Pulled from Dance Magazine‘s October 1964 issue, today’s archival image is of Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, and choreographer Marc Breaux. They’re rehearsing, of course, the ever-classic film Mary Poppins, which was highlighted in DM that month by Arthur Knight. Needless to say, it was a rave review titled, “It’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”. More than Andrews’ singing voice or the comedic performances from the star supporting cast, Knight cited the dancing as the most special of the film. “For all these glittering excellences, however, it is still the musical sequences—and particularly the dance sequences—that lift Mary Poppins into a very special class,” wrote Knight. “Without them, it would be an agreeable and charming comedy; with them, it becomes a spirited, superlative entertainment.”
Breaux co-choreographed Poppins with his wife, Dee Dee Wood. The duo also crafted Julie Andrews’ dance moves in her other signature role as Fraulein Maria in The Sound of Music. And for seven years, Wood and Breaux choreographed the Saturday night variety show, The Hollywood Palace. The series featured various guest hosts each week, and dancers on the show included Chita Rivera, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, the Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly, Peter Gennaro, Jacques d’Amboise, Margot Fonteyn, Nureyev, Alvin Ailey, and many, many more.
The Hollywood Palace
has been uploading select, full-length episodes on its YouTube page. I’d recommend starting with an episode from 1965, when Judy Garland hosts, sings a quick medley from West Side Story, and Chita Rivera breaks out in all her glory around the 17-minute marker. Or, if you’re feeling more rock ‘n’ roll, you can always watch The Rolling Stones’ first American television appearance, which was on The Hollywood Palace in 1964—although I think it’s safe to assume neither Breaux nor Wood choreographed Jagger’s moves that time.